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Writer's Guide to Getting Published: The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman

Updated on September 18, 2014

Writers Write

Typewriter for writing.
Typewriter for writing. | Source

Do You Want to Write Better?

If your goal is to become a better writer, whether you want to be published or not, The First Five Pages is the book for you.

Written in easy-to-read language that speaks to you, as a person, this book explains what the reader wants from you, as a writer.

The answer in a nutshell is this:

Readers make up their minds about reading a book in the first five pages. If those first five pages don't pass muster, your book will more than likely get abandoned with nary a bookmark peeking from the top to know anyone was ever there.

Literary Agent Gives Sound Advice

Noah Lukeman is a literary agent who knows what he's talking about. One reason I recommend this book is Lukeman knows his stuff.

Who better to learn what an agent is looking for in an unknown writer than to learn from an agent?

The agent acts as the middle man between the writer and the book editor looking for that next great book.

And get this: Before becoming an agent, Lukeman worked as an editor, so guess what? He has worn both hats and knows what an agent and an acquiring book editor are looking for!

Write Books to Be Read

Books are written to be read.
Books are written to be read. | Source

Tip No. 1: Your Book Must Be Well Written

Your manuscript has to be written in engaging prose that's well written.

In his book, Lukeman writes: "If the writing is good, then we'll go back and consider the synopsis."

So, this means that a poorly written book won't be read, even through the first five pages. The best plot and storyline are nothing if poorly written.

The First Five Pages Available on Amazon

The First Five Pages: A Writer's Guide To Staying Out of the Rejection Pile
The First Five Pages: A Writer's Guide To Staying Out of the Rejection Pile
Noah Lukeman explains what agents and editors (and readers!) want to read. What I took away from this book is this: Make your writing engaging so they'll want to keep reading the entire book because pages six to the end have to be just as good as the first five pages.

Summary of The First Five Pages

Tip No. 2: Use Dialogue Correctly

Lukeman states in The First Five Pages that agents and editors read dialogue right up front to see if conversations are written well.

Too much dialogue is not good. In fact Lukeman writes, "...if I skim through a manuscript and see pages and pages filled with dialogue, with no breaks or rests in between, chances are, it's going to be rejected."

He also advises that a book with too little dialogue is bound for the rejection pile as well.

Tip No. 3: Show, Don't Tell

Writers are often told to show me, don't tell me.

Lukeman agrees and writes, "It is the writer's job to show us what his characters are like, not by what he says about them, or what they say about one another, but by their actions."

Paint a story with words and your reader will be engaged and want to keep reading. Give a laundry list and they'll get bored, and possibly go do laundry instead of reading your book.

Writers, Tell Us Your Tale!

Have You Written a Book?

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    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      6 years ago from England

      Great advice, and something we need to come back and read before embarking on that book we all have in our heads, nice one!

    • Scarlettohairy profile imageAUTHOR

      Peggy Hazelwood 

      6 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      Randall, I hope you enjoy it and can glean some good tips from it!

    • Randall Guinn profile image

      Randall Guinn 

      6 years ago from Pinellas Park, Florida

      I just ordered the book Scarlett. Thanks for the advice.

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 

      7 years ago from California

      This is such a good article--sending it around again!

    • Writer Fox profile image

      Writer Fox 

      7 years ago from the wadi near the little river

      I think you've highlighted the best from this book and I appreciated your review. Voted up and interesting!

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 

      7 years ago from North Dallas, Texas

      This advice is important for each of us who aspire to be writers. I listened to the video which also had valuable points.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      The advice to "paint a story with words" is not easy to do. It takes a lot of effort but the end result is well worth it.

    • Cyndi10 profile image

      Cynthia B Turner 

      7 years ago from Georgia

      Very useful advice. I will take a look at the book to learn more. I like a lot of dialogue in the books I read. There are some writers who are masters at getting the amount of dialogue just right. They are authors I tend to read whenever they publish.

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 

      7 years ago from California

      So good to know!! Thank you!

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 

      7 years ago from Southampton, UK

      I am researching right now for my first book, but finding it hard to get off the ground.

      I know only too well that the first 5 pages are critical, because if a book doesn't grab me by then, it's a 99% chance I will put it down.

    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 

      7 years ago from Germany

      This is a great advice. I am writing a childrens book but I am still halfway to be finished. Thanks for sharing.

    • RonElFran profile image

      Ronald E Franklin 

      7 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

      I've started a couple of fiction projects, but haven't gotten far. A big part of that is feeling very apprehensive about my ability to do just the things Mr. Lukeman addresses. So, for me your hub is right on target.

    • Margaret Schindel profile image

      Margaret Schindel 

      7 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thanks for the good advice, Peggy! I've thought about writing a book for a long time, and I appreciate every nudge from the universe (like this article) that brings me closer to "just do it." :)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Thanks for summing up the great advice in this book -- making me want to read it even more! I no longer plan to write a book, but transcribed to the HubPages world, I think we can call it the first 5 lines (or less)! Thanks for reading suggestion, Peggy!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Usually I open up a new book to the middle and see if it's interesting there. If it passes muster, then I may look at the beginning or just buy it.

    • Brite-Ideas profile image

      Barbara Tremblay Cipak 

      7 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      I love how on pretty much every thing I read online there's a good tip that sinks in, in your page 'show don't tell' resonates. Am going to remember that as I write here. Thanks Peggy.

    • Nancy Hardin profile image

      Nancy Carol Brown Hardin 

      7 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Good advice here Peggy. I've been thinking of writing a book lately, have even been putting together my notes and research for it. Maybe one of these days...... Thanks for the help.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Great advice!

    • Homeplace Series profile image

      William Leverne Smith 

      7 years ago from Hollister, MO

      I'm always interested in useful advice. Thanks for sharing! ;-)


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