What is First Pages?

The power of thinking without thinking.

In Blink, Author Malcolm Gladwell says we think without thinking, using our ability, based on experience, to sort out what will work and what won't, what is truly remarkable and what isn't.

And that's what editors do when they participate in our First Pages general session. 

WHAT IS THE FIRST PAGES SESSION?  

On Saturday afternoon the editors on our faculty come together in a panel for a general session. Submissions are read by a moderator who seeks a professional assessment  from the panel about the submission. 

WHAT IS A PROFESSIONAL ASSESSMENT?

 It is NOT a critique, not an analysis of the writing, story or style.

This is an evaluation of the beginning of the story. Think of this as you sitting on a chair near the editor as he or she goes through the pile of submissions  received. The editor reads the first page, and looks for

  • Hook
  • Character
  • Voice.

It’s quick. Like being in a bookstore trying to find something to read. Editors [and agents too], just like readers, want to be enchanted by the story from the very beginning. 

This is like sending in a resume for a job. We all know that the person receiving the resume may spend up to 30 seconds reading, making a judgment as to whether or not the person is a good fit, and putting the resume in follow-up or no follow-up piles. 

Well, the same is true for the editor. Your first 200 words of your submission are like your resume.

First Pages is where we look to answer the question:

        Does the editor want to turn the page and then ask for more? 

WHO MAY SUBMIT A FIRST PAGE?

Any conference participant can submit the first 200 words of their manuscript to be read by the panel moderator.

  • FORMAT FOR SUBMISSION TO FIRST PAGES:
  • NO NAME
  • Appropriate genre in the upper right corner [PB, Chap, MG, YA]
  • Use TIMES NEW ROMAN font
  • 1" margins
  • Must end in a complete sentence, adjust accordingly
  • NO MORE than the first 200 words

This is what a first page should look like… 

Sample First Pages

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHEN CAN WE SUBMIT OUR FIRST PAGE? 

We keep a tray at Registration Table. You may submit one first page Friday between 2 PM & 5 PM and Saturday between 7:30 AM & 8:30 AM.

We will automatically exclude those submissions that fail to follow the guidelines.

WHY WASN’T MY FIRST PAGE READ?

We usually receive upwards of fifty or more submissions. Additionally we combine First Pages, which is for writers, with First Impressions, which is for illustrators.

We schedule about one and a half hours for this panel as part of our conference agenda. And even with that time, we cannot read and provide comment on as many as we receive. 

WHY IS FIRST PAGES IMPORTANT TO ME, MY SUBMISSION WASN’T READ? 

We try, in our SCBWI regional conferences to focus on the art and craft of writing. 

First Pages takes that one step further, again, like sitting next to an editor as he or she says, "See, this is good because." Or "No, this doesn't work for me because." 

Do submit a First Page. Don't be disappointed if your submission isn't read.

  • Listen carefully as the First Page is read.
  • Listen to the comments by the editors.
  • Take notes on what is important to them in a story and what makes them sit up and continue to read. 

This will help you in two ways:

  1. 1. You may now have an understanding of whether or not your manuscript is really ready to be submitted to an editor and,
  2. 2. If it is ready, in understanding which editor might be a good fit for your manuscript.

Then, after the conference,  you can use this information to either work on your manuscript and get it ready for submission or submit your manuscript according to the guidelines that will be in your conference packet. 

WHAT HAPPENS TO THE FIRST PAGES AFTER THE SESSION?

Please do not request a return of your First Page. All First Page entries are shredded by the moderator following the general session.