Editing Your First Five Pages


By Katy Kauffman


They need the wow factor. Once a potential buyer looks at the title of your book, the cover, the back cover copy, and the Table of Contents, they’re likely to look at your first five pages. If the first paragraph wows them, they’ll keep reading. If the wow factor is missing, you may miss a possible sale.


So how can you maintain the wow factor of your first five pages and maximize the appeal of your book? Here are five tips for editing the first five pages to keep the wow factor going.


1.     Make sure you have written tight.


Cut unnecessary words that distract the reader from the main point of each sentence and paragraph. Quantity of words is not as important as quality. A short sentence can contain more punch than a long one, and usually does. Ask yourself whether each word in a sentence is needed and whether each sentence in a paragraph is playing an important role.


2.     See if your paragraphs have a clear flow of thought.


I love to write from a feeling of inspiration, but I always have to go back and see if my writing follows a definite flow of thought. Make sure your first five pages don’t meander off course. Meandering can frustrate the reader, and they may put your book down.


3.     Make the first line of every paragraph attention-grabbing.


If you read the first line of every paragraph in your first five pages, would you buy your book? Write these first lines with as much flare as you wrote the first sentence of your book. You want to keep your reader interested and wanting to know more. Use questions, statistics, new insights, and stories to start new paragraphs.


4.     See if you ended every paragraph with a mini-cliff hanger.


You don’t have to get too dramatic, but the end of each paragraph in your writing acts like a stepping stone placed in front of the reader. Motivate them to “step” into the next paragraph and keep reading. If you conclude a thought in a paragraph, do it with such insight, pizzazz, and emotion that will make them want to keep reading to see what you have to say next.


5.     Give them some takeaway—even at the beginning!


You want the reader to come away from your book with amazing takeaway—helpful insights, encouraging thoughts, answers to problems, and strategies to implement your ideas. Present these things in such a way that they are inspired to take action. Write with music, motivate with real-life stories, instruct the mind, and touch the heart. Your whole book should have insights that they can take away with them, but give them enough takeaway in the first five pages so that they see the relevance of your book and look forward to what else you have to say.


What would you want to see in the first five pages of a book that has an intriguing title? What elements would make you buy a nonfiction book? Tell us in the comments below, and don’t forget the power of your first five pages.


 Photo courtesy of Unsplash and Nick Fewings.

Katy Kauffman is an award-winning author, an editor of Refresh Bible Study Magazine, and a co-founder of Lighthouse Bible Studies. She has the privilege of working with writers and the Lighthouse team to create Bible study compilations and magazine issues. She has a newsletter for writers called The Lighthouse Connection, and she contributes to three blogs on writing. Connect with Katy at www.lighthousebiblestudies.com and on Facebook and Twitter.



  1. Thanks for these wonderful tips, Katy. Thank you too, Andrea!


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