The First Five Pages

[I]’ve been working on writing my own eBook for the last few months and so I decided to read Noah Lukeman’s book, The First Five Pages. It reads similar to an English textbook in the sense of proper writing skills. His focus is really on writing your own fictional story. Since that isn’t what I’m writing, much of it didn’t necessarily apply. However, it was beneficial as a reminder of grammar rules and style. Surprisingly, the most helpful things about the book were the quotes to begin each chapter. I found these tremendously encouraging and they provide a solid foundation for perspective in trying to get published.
“It seems important to me that beginning writers ponder this–that since 1964, I have never had a book, story or poem rejected that was not later published. If you know what you are doing, eventually you will run into an editor who knows what he/she is doing. It may take years, but never give up. Writing is a lonely business not just because you have to sit alone in a room with your machinery for hours and hours every day, month after month, year after year, but because after all the blood, sweat, toil and tears you still have to find somebody who respects what you have written enough to leave it alone and print it. And, believe me, this remains true, whether the book is your first novel or your thirty-first.” Joseph Hansen “Stephen King’s first four novels were rejected. ‘This guy from Maine sent in this novel over the transom,’ said Bill Thompson, his former editor at Doubleday. Mr. Thompson, sensing something there, asked to see subsequent novels, but still rejected the next three. However, King withstood the rejection, and Mr. Thompson finally bought the fifth novel, despite his colleagues’ lack of enthusiasm, for $2,500. It was called Carrie.” “Bill Thompson, the same editor who discovered Stephen King, years later bought a first novel from a man named John Grisham. It was called A Time to Kill. Thompson paid $15,000 for it, on behalf of Wynwood Press. It didn’t earn back its advance. Grisham and his agent came back to Thompson with a new manuscript (called The Firm), already optioned by Tom Cruise. They knew they could get big money for it elsewhere, but Grisham, out of loyalty to Thompson, offered it to him for only $50,000. Thompson wanted to take him up on the offer, but the management of Wynwood was less keen. After all, ‘optioned’ didn’t mean ‘made,’ and Grisham still hadn’t made back the money on his first book, and even if he had, the management of a smaller publisher like Wynwood didn’t want to risk that kind of money on a novel. So Grisham and his agent went elsewhere. Another publisher ended up buying The Firm with a bid well into six figures. The Firm was a New York Times #1 bestseller, as has been every Grisham novel since.”

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Jeremy Jernigan

Speaker | Author | Founder of Communion Wine Co.