The First Five Pages
Book Review

Lukeman, Noah,The First Five Pages: A Writer's Guide To Staying Out of the Rejection Pile. 2000 New York: Fireside.

Why or earth would a self-publishing writer care about staying out of the slush pile? (For those who don't know, the slush pile is the stack of unsolicited manuscripts that clutter the offices of publishing houses.)

Self-publishers don't have to please publishers.

But you DO have to please readers.

The editor in a publishing house is your first official reader. If the editor tosses your manuscript aside, other readers will, too.

As a self-publishing writer, you have several obstacles in front of you. To be economically successful, your writing has to be at least as good as the writing of those who publish in more traditional ways.

Lukeman can help you.

He has been an editor for publishing houses and is currently both a writer and a literary agent. He knows this topic from the inside out. He is brief, clear, and sound.

What will you get from him?
  • Understanding of why the first five pages matter.
  • A step-by-step explanation of how a discerning editor will look at your work (and what your reader will react to.)
  • Clear solutions to each problem he addresses.
  • A set of examples of good and bad writing illustrating the topic of each chapter.
  • Exercises at the end of each chapter you can use to improve your work.


Lukeman wrote The First Five Pages for both writers and editors. I suppose that one reason I like the book so much was because I agreed with it.

If my clients would read this book and use Lukeman's suggestions to improve their own writing, my job would be so much easier! And my clients would be saving so much money! Every improvement you make yourself is one you don't have to pay me to make.

Lukeman understands that even after you have made your book as good as it can be, you still need help. Over and over, he says that the first step in fixing a problem is to have discerning readers read your work. If you belong to a critique group that will dig into your work, be thankful. Whether you have such a support group or not, find an editor who understands all the aspects of writing that Lukeman lists.

At the very least, read and use The First Five Pages to improve all your writing.