Offer to do first page critique

I just returned from the Henderson Writer’s Conference in Las Vegas. It was a lot of work, but also a lot of fun. One of the best parts was finally meeting my amazing client, Nicole McInnes. We had a great time doing two unscripted panels describing the author-agent relationship. There was little time for gambling until the conference was over (or late into the night!), but there was plenty of time for the attendees to spend with the faculty pitching their books and learning about the business from a select group of seasoned professionals.

 One section of the event consisted of an American Idol-style critique where the first page of an attendee’s work was read out loud and a panel of agents would raise their hand at the point they felt the material went off track. Then, each panelist would share their thoughts on strengths and weaknesses of the first page.

As an agent, it’s a challenging but interesting exercise. I personally prefer to have the page in front of me rather than relying on the auditory cues. And then there are the differences of opinion that inevitably arise from our subjective views in that setting. On the other hand, it was interesting to hear a variety of ideas about what other agents respond to when considering a submission. In the end, no major shouting matches ensued and I think the attendees found the honest feedback useful.

So it got me to thinking this could be a fun exercise on the blog. If you are interested in hearing my first page thoughts on a finished book or work in progress, and you’re willing to share the page on this space, please send a comment by Wednesday, May 7th, and I will pick one person at random to do a critique. Obviously it won’t be Idol-style, but it still should be an entertaining and productive exercise. Thanks in advance for participating!

52 Responses to Offer to do first page critique

  1. Adam B. says:

    Awesome. Thanks for doing this. Should be fun.

    Reckoning Day: Friday September 1st, 2023

    Corn cobs and stalks smack and bounce off the cockpit window. With white-knuckled fingers, I slow the Learjet, spin a couple 360s in the field, and bring us to a stop. I power down the engines and calm my breathing, and my nerves. Journey complete. Almost.

    It’s still over a mile to the farmhouse, where I have to kill my identical twin before he kills me. But first…

    I join the others in the cabin and click on the 50” flat-screen. It, and every other television on the planet, emits a sound like a tortured, electronic bullfrog intermittently croaking. Then the message scrolls: “…THIS IS THE EMERGENCY ALERT SYSTEM. THIS IS NOT A TEST. REPEAT, THIS IS NOT A TEST. STAND BY FOR THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES…” Until today, the E.A.S. has never been activated nationally, not even on 9/11. But President Bobby Washington and I have ramped up the transmission and expanded it globally. The memorandum repeats four times before Bobby materializes onscreen, sitting behind the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office.

    Here we go.

    I’ve hidden, fought, and killed for this. Now I watch as a blind mankind is given sight.

    “Good evening,” Bobby says. “Normally I’d follow that with ‘my fellow Americans.’ But tonight’s address is airing subtitled worldwide. That said, good evening, my fellow humans.” Bobby removes his necktie, twirls it around his finger and lets it dangle. “Many of you are upset that I’m impeding on Oprah’s primetime special and this week’s preseason NFL game. Well, I have a reply to that.” He tosses his tie onto the desk. “Fuck Oprah. Fuck football. Of the millions of distractions we’ve created for you, they’re just two.”

  2. Frightening thought, the whole read out loud and listen to their critique in public thing… I’m happier with it in front of you as well… Though having it posted here where I can’t watch others read it is second best. I’m game to play!


  3. Anonymous says:

    I’d love your feedback on my first page!
    They do a first page panel at the MN SCBWI conference every year, too. It’s one of my favorite parts! I love hearing what the panel thinks. Like you said, it’s such a subjective business and what works for one person might not work for another. But when they all agree, then you know it’s time for a revision. 😉

    • Rachel Schieffelbein says:

      Lol. The first time I got caught by Captcha, and apparently the second time I forgot to fill out my info! Geez. I would love a first page critique!

  4. Susan Fish says:

    I met Joseph Boyden just before he became well known. We talked about the importance of the beginnings of books, and how the writer makes a promise to the reader at the start of the book. I liked that and I’d love to know whether my book makes a compelling promise.

  5. I’d love an opportunity for a one page critique! Standing in front of a whole panel of judges and spectators sounds nerve-wracking, but I’m brave enough to try one judge and a blog post :)

  6. Jenni Wiltz says:

    I’d love it! I’m working on a literary novel (I usually do genre stuff), so it would be great to get some feedback. I’ll gladly submit a page if chosen. :)

  7. What a wonderful idea! I’d love a one page critique. Thank you for this opportunity!

  8. Anita Cray says:

    I’d love to add my name to the pot. Thanks for the opportunity.

  9. Faydra says:

    I’d love a one page critique. Thanks for doing this.

  10. Danielle says:

    What a great opportunity! I would love an opportunity to hear your thoughts and see if my first page grab’s someone’s attention. Thanks for doing this!

  11. Well, I’ll throw my hat in the ring, pilgrim.

  12. Lisa says:

    Oh, I’d love to hear your thoughts on my first page! You are one of several DGLM agents to whom I’ve been considering submitting my YA Fantasy query. Thanks for doing this!

  13. Add me to the list, and many thanks for the offer. Someone will get some invaluable feedback!

  14. Kristen Terrette says:

    Sounds like fun! We agonize over our first page, so any feedback would be well-worth the possible embarrassment of everyone else seeing it if it’s am epic fail! Place me in the mix please!

  15. Krish S. Ram says:

    Third time lucky? I’m having a war with the captcha! What an offer … you and DGLM are such renowned names in the industry. Thanks!

    Your captcha system hates me :( Let’s see if number 5 makes it through…

  16. This is the perfect moment for an opportunity like this on my WIP. I’m almost ready to send it to my first round of beta readers, but having a pro take a gander first would be terrific. Thanks for the slip in the hat.

  17. I’m up for the a first page review as well. It’s not YA (looking at the what we’re looking for page) but it might be feasible for discussion.

  18. I would also rather read something over just listening to it. Please throw my hat in the ring. Thank you for the opportunity.

  19. Heather B says:

    Seriously, I have like six different versions of page one for the same darn book. Count me in, please. I write YA.

  20. Debbie Lampi says:

    An American Idol-style critique sounds daunting but worth its weight in gold!

  21. Lana says:

    I’d love to be entered for the one-page critique. Thanks for putting this on!

  22. What a lovely offer! I would be honored to be able to participate. I have five complete projects– all of which are in a different state of submission to editors and agents. Pick me and I’ll pick a project to send along.

    Incidentally, four of the five complete novels are YA.

  23. says:

    I’d love a critique, great offer! It’s not YA and in the very early stages. I guess you could call it an urban fantasy/csi mystery cross genre..

  24. Myron says:

    I would love to get a critique as well. I’ve been struggling to find out what exactly works in my MG piece and what doesn’t. Sign me up!

  25. Christina says:

    Oh, this offer is wonderful! Thank you for putting it out here.

  26. Mary Pessaran says:

    How fun. Yes, please. I’d like to play.

  27. Vania says:

    I’m putting my name in the pot. It’s invaluable input I can’t pass up.

  28. Lynn says:

    Thank you, Stacey, for this great opportunity! (It’s nice to see such a turnout, but I’m hoping it’s me!) LOL!

  29. Hillsy says:

    Awesome…..I saw Brandon Sanderson do something not dissimilar with his online SFF writing workshop (Write About Dragons), albeit with a view to line edits and craft. But as I tend to struggle with gauging when something is “finished” (as in doesn’t need editing anymore) rather than when something is perfect (which is unattainable), even if I don’t get picked watching the process is going to be helpful…

    …So yeah, chuck my name in the hat too!

  30. Josephine Carr says:

    This is exactly the kind of tough criticism every writer needs. Excellent idea. I’m grateful for the opportunity!

  31. Sally says:

    Hello! What a fab offer. I’d love to throw my one page in the hat! I have a completed YA with spiritual elements and theme, which is in critiquing rounds. I’ve edited the first chapter so much in that process, I’d be so grateful for professional feedback.

  32. Pamela A. Oberg says:

    Oh, how lovely! What a great opportunity to offer. Thank you!

  33. Thank you! I have a lit fiction/women’s fiction novel about a family in an elephant-in-the-living-room dilemma created by the mother’s behavior. Title: What They Didn’t Name.

  34. rebecca lacy says:

    Oh, oh, oh, (hand up in the air a la Arnold Horshack) pick me! What a wonderful opportunity for the lucky person you select.

  35. Karen Wolff says:

    Thanks for the opportunity. I’d love to have a chance at it.

  36. Ciara says:

    Sounds fun. Count me in!

  37. Jenny Boodro says:

    I’ve been obsessing over my first page for months. As a reader, I’m guilty of judging a book based on the first paragraph. If it pulls me in, I’m sold, but if not…back to the shelf. Thank you for the opportunity!

  38. Angela says:

    The number of drafts I have for Page 1 is practically triple the number of hours I sleep . . . but only one third the number of ice cream scoops I’ve inhaled during the process. :’) Thanks for offering the first-page critique!

  39. Leo Valiquette says:

    Good day:

    Yes, please put my name in the hat for the first page critique.


  40. Joe S. says:

    With my Query currently under review by Ms. Glick, I would leap at the opportunity to ascertain a rare intrinsic readers’ psyche and publicly experience the myriad of emotions Literary Agents undergo, when considering our work. This sounds like a spiritual and educational opportunity of a lifetime!

    Count me in!

    – Joe S.

  41. What a great idea! Thank you so much for offering this. I’d love to win a first page critique.

  42. D. C. DaCosta says:

    This is definitely an opportunity not to pass up. Please count me in.

  43. Great idea. I’m game.

  44. M. S. Ameen says:

    Thanks for doing this. Count me in!

  45. Jeff Franklin says:

    Yes please.

    Thank you.

  46. Michele Lombardo says:

    I’d love to be considered. Thanks for doing this! I have a contemporary YA novel that I think is just about ready to go…


  47. Courtney Gilfillian says:

    I’d love to be entered!

  48. Stacey says:

    Hi, all. First, a huge thanks for the amazing response to this post! I see I found an idea that really resonates. I am happy to say that the winning critique goes to…Jenny Boodro! Jenny, please email your first page to me at, along with a pitch letter if you have it.

    But don’t despair if you were not picked. I will definitely be doing this again before too long, and in the meantime, you can look for the critique on next Wednesday’s blog post.

  49. Jenny Boodro says:

    Thanks for the opportunity, Stacey! When I open the blog on Wednesday, it will be with a glass of wine in hand.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Please type the characters of this captcha image in the input box

Please type the characters of this captcha image in the input box

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>