Monday 23 February 2015

Favourite Craft Book: The First 50 Pages, by Jeff Gerke

Review by Andrea Grigg

When a writing craft book has an endorsement by Donald Maas and a foreword by James Scott Bell you know it’s gotta be good, right?

Right. And this one is brilliant.

For a start, the man is qualified to write about writing. Not only has Jeff Gerke authored several novels, (under the name of Jefferson Scott) but he has worked as an editor and publisher, as well as an acquisitions editor at three different companies. He knows what’s what when it comes to the importance of those first fifty pages.

It’s daunting writing a novel. Not only do we have to engage our readers on the first page but if we choose to go down the traditional publishing route, we also have to impress an editor and maybe an agent. And then the second page has to be as good as the first so these all-important people don’t lose interest, and then the third has to be equally fabulous, etc. etc. etc.

I did say it was daunting didn’t I?

Never mind – help is at hand in the form of The First 50 Pages.

Part 1 is entitled ‘The Submission Process’. The first three chapters take us into the mind of an acquisitions editor – an interesting place, I can assure you! Even if you’re planning on self-publishing, it’s worth the read.

Part 2 is the meat of the book, called ‘What Your First Fifty Pages Must Accomplish’. Chapter headings include: Engage Your Reader; Introduce Your Main Character; Start the Inner Journey; The First Page; Pages 2 to 50. And how’s this for practical help? Three main errors that will kill your chances with editors are … you’ll have to purchase the book to find out J

I’m so thankful I came across this book. Jeff makes the process easy to follow. He uses examples from well-known books and movies to illustrate his points and asks thought-provoking questions to make you look at your manuscript in a new light.

In conclusion, I have to say The First 50 Pages is up there for me (right beside Rayne Hall’s The Word-Loss Diet. You can read my thoughts on that one here.)

I’ve also purchased two other books by Jeff: Character vs Plot, and The Art and Craft of Writing Christian Fiction. I’ve yet to read them but anticipate they’ll be every bit as good as this one. 

Andrea Grigg lives on the Gold Coast, Queensland, and is a writer of contemporary Christian romance. Her first book, ‘A Simple Mistake’ was a finalist in the 2012 CALEB awards. Her second novel, ‘Too Pretty’ was released in August 2014.

Twitter: @andreagrigg


  1. Thanks for sharing this, Andrea! I've added all his writing craft books to my wishlists :-)

    For those who are going the self-publication route, not only will his books help with the writing aspect, but I know he offers editing, cover design and typesetting services. Might be well worth a look.

    When I finally get a section on Soul Inspirationz dedicated to writing craft and self-publication services, he will be one of the first listed there. He comes very highly recommended.

  2. Great, Ellie! I know you'll find Jeff's books a tremendous help :)

  3. Great review, Andrea. I like Jeff's work. I've found it very useful. I haven't read this one but have read the Art and Craft of Writing Christian Fiction and something he did on "How to Find your Story" that I find very useful and still use some of the material in my writing. He's very practical which I love.

    1. Anything practical works for me too, Ian. I am very much a visual learner! Thanks for the comment :)

  4. Thanks for that Andrea. Very helpful to know what is covered.

    1. You're welcome, Rita. It's a truly helpful book :)

  5. Andrea, thanks for your insightful review. I've heard great things about this book and it sounds like a helpful resource for all writers :)

    1. Hi Narelle - I'm sure you'd find this book invaluable :)


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