Friday, March 10, 2023

Query Friday: Sample Pages

Often, the submission guidelines for querying agents include a sample of your work.

I have seen agents requesting anything from the first 250 words to the first 50 pages. In addition to the actual query, agents will use this sample of work to determine if they enjoy your voice, writing style, and more. Those sample pages have to do a lot of heavy lifting.

Free Man Lifting A Barbell Stock Photo

So how do you make those sample pages shine?

Free Photography of Book Page Stock Photo

First things first- you want to make sure that those sample pages are the first pages of your book. 

But..... no buts. You can't select a sample from a random point in your book. If you feel that your first pages aren't hooky enough, aren't exciting enough, or are not what you need to grab the reader, then rewrite your first pages.

After you've grabbed the requested number of chapters, make sure they are polished. Have multiple people read them, check for grammatical or formatting errors, anything to make them spiffy.

Be considerate of what the agent is requesting. If they ask for the first three chapters, send that. If they ask for the first 50 pages, send that. If a logical space to stop is page 51, that is probably fine, but don't push it, it's better to only send 48 pages than to send 62.

Ensure your sample pages are formatted correctly. Standard is a 12 pt font and double spaced. Anything tighter than that may make the manuscript unreadable, and that is the last thing you want.  

Prologue image from Star Wars

Should you include a prologue?

Hmmm... tricky. There is a lot of conversation about prologues. Some people hate them, some don't mind, some think that if the prologue is the beginning of your story, then it should be titled Chapter 1.

Consider if your prologue is necessary? If so, is it really Chapter 1?

If not, then send it, but keep in mind the submission guidelines. If an agent asks for the first three chapters, I'd send the Prologue, Chapter 1, and Chapter 2.

What do you think? Any feelings on prologues? Any wisdom to pass along regarding sample pages? Please comment below! 

And if you're interested in a query critique, please mention that in your comment by Sunday the 11th at 5pm EST. Include your email address or make sure it is included in your blogger profile and the randomly drawn winner will receive an email with instructions to submit.

Happy Writing!


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