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The First 50 Pages: Engage Agents, Editors and Readers, and Set Your Novel Up For Success Paperback – November 25, 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Writer's Digest Books (November 25, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1599632837
  • ISBN-13: 978-1599632834
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #222,166 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Jeff Gerke (www.marcherlordpress.com and www.wherethemapends.com) is an author of fiction and nonfiction including such books as the Operation: Firebrand novels. He has worked as an editor for numerous publications and is the founder of Marcher Lord Press, an indie publishing company dedicated to producing the finest in Christian science-fiction, fantasy, and other genres. He is also the author of Plot Versus Character, also from Writer's Digest Books. He lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado.


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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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If you're starting a book, read this one first.
K.M. Weiland, Author of Historical and Speculative Fiction
This is a MUST read for anyone who wishes to write literary fiction that will live through the ages.
Forrest P
Jeff's explanations are clear and practical, make sense, and he gives you a lot of examples.
B Nault

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By mikew on November 9, 2011
Format: Paperback
This book is what I expected it to be, which is a good thing. I do recommend that you read this book as well as 'Hooked' and 'The First 5 Pages'

This book uses movies as examples, and I think that was a good thing, although at times there's a little too many examples about some easy concepts that don't need as many examples that the author gives.

The one thing about this book is that it stresses, over and over, that you need to 'show' and the author goes so far as to say that you "never" do any telling in the first fifty pages. While, I guess, that's true, there is a place for 'telling.' In that respect, this book reads like it's about screenwriting more than fiction at times... the author doesn't acknowledge stuff like 'internal monologue.' Personally, I like reading books because, unlike movies, books can put you in the heads of characters, and that is one aspect of writing fiction that was not mentioned a single time in this book... so, I also recommend reading 'Showing and Telling.'

Overall, though, this was a good book about a topic that there haven't been many books about, so I recommend it.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Kourtney Heintz on July 15, 2012
Format: Paperback
The First 50 Pages by Jeff Gerke is an insightful look at what agents and editors are truly looking for in the first 50 pages of a novel. The information is provided by an author/editor in an easy-to-understand manner.

I had the opportunity to hear Mr. Gerke speak at the Writer's Digest Conference in January and I immediately jumped in line to get a copy of his book signed. He was a terrific speaker who provided lots of examples and explanations. His workshop was one of the best at the conference.

The first part of the book is dedicated to explaining the submission process. Some important points he raised are that your opening lines must hook the reader. He clarifies that starting with action isn't about blowing stuff up or having someone's life at risk. IT SIMPLY MEANS IT MUST BE INTERESTING TO THE READER.

He also talks of the three bombs: POV, show vs. tell, and character creation. A problem with any of these can blow up a book and not in an Oprah knocking on your door sort of way.

The rest of the book focuses on what your first 50 pages must do. And it's a lot. A lot a lot. In this section he touches on how to engage your reader, introduce your main character, establish the main character's normal, establish the story world's normal, start the inner journey, and follow the Three Act structure.

As I read this book, I analyzed my two finished manuscripts and tried to think of where I'd missed the mark. Where I needed to work further on them. What was not working in their first 50 pages.

This is one of my favorite craft books because Jeff Gerke's conversational presentation style is captured perfectly in these pages. I felt like he was talking right to me and sharing his personal experiences. He used lots of movies as examples which made concepts much easier to grasp and apply later to my own work.

This is a must read for any writer submitting their work to agents and editors.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By John F. Mills on May 29, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Anybody that has spent any time reading "How To" books on getting an agent or finding a publisher for your first novel has heard this all before, just not wriiten this well and in so few pages. This book, like the intended results of having read it, will keep you starring bleary-eyed page after page with you praying you don't forget each and every tip. Buy it. Read it. Write the best first 50 pages you've ever penned.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By K.M. Weiland, Author of Historical and Speculative Fiction on April 24, 2013
Format: Paperback
Beginnings are arguably the most difficult part of any story. We have to accomplish so much in such a short amount of time. No wonder some of us are driven to drink! Fortunately, Gerke has done us all a good turn by applying his many years of editorial experience to boiling down the demands of the first fifty pages into a straightforward and manageable checklist. Although I disagree with some of his conclusions, all in all, this book couldn't be more spot-on. It offers help for everything from the opening line to the opening chapter to the introduction of important characters to the foundation of the protagonist's arc. If you're starting a book, read this one first.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Amy B. Gracey on December 28, 2011
Format: Paperback
I liked this book, as it does give great advice. It reminds writers of what is important in this day of extreme competition. It gives examples and speaks from the editor's chair. In that respect, I found it particularly helpful.

I did find the writing a bit redundant. The author repeated certain points so many times I got to skimming over those parts (and wondering who his editor is, maybe himself?). He repeats points such as how busy editors are, how many manuscripts have to be read, the need for publishing companies to make a profit, etc. Perhaps he wrote it in a hurry (after all, he is his own publisher) and did not realize how many times he repeated himself!

Overall, a good read, if you can bear the repeated info.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By T. Edmund on September 1, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
Between the dorky jokes, Gerke, successfully sells his thesis of how important set-up is in a novel.

Gerke covers: character, setting, first lines and initial suspense building - something that stood out from other 'writers on writing' is that Gerke goes to the effort of explaining how to follow the advise he espouses. For example rather than just saying "your character needs to be sympathetic" we are provided with methods of achieving this.

In short, a must read for those struggling through the writing process.
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