The Test of the First Ten Pages

Sometimes, the first pages of a book are a bit of a challenge, those that make me want to stop reading before I get into the story. In other words, the book is taking time to get me hooked.

That’s why agents consider the first ten pages an evaluation tool for what is yet to come. 

I am usually not impatient to get into the action of a story. I enjoy reading an introductory narrative that draws me in as much as I would have enjoyed writing it myself. But what was missing in those laborious pages was their ability to create an image in my mind. 

Does my book have enough of a good hook? I often asked myself. Since it’s about a long female friendship eventually facing a short illness, I had to introduce my dilemma with the implied promise of a good read. And I could only do this in a contemplative way. But would it be enticing enough to pass the test of the first ten pages? I needed an answer. 

When Writers Digest offered a workshop on this, I was… hooked. The critique of my first ten pages gave me a new perspective, leading me to improve on my narrative.

The first ten pages are like a passport. They only let the reader into the story if all is in order. If this fails, turning the pages might fail too.

To the point, the first ten pages make a book sell. First, they must hook an agent who, in turn, must hook an acquiring editor, who must be hooked enough to push it for publication.