A few months ago when a literary agent requested for me to send her the first fifty pages, I’ll admit that I didn’t know what she meant. So, I Googled.
The first fifty pages, or partial manuscript, is exactly what it is: the first fifty pages of your novel. It normally covers the span of three chapters. Some agents will clarify by asking for the first three chapters, while others request the first fifty pages. This allows for the agent to read the start of your story. It’ll show if you have good characters, a solid start of a plot, your writing skills, the story’s pace, etc.
Several agents in my research said “no more than fifty and no less than fifty”. If it cuts off within a page of the close of your chapter, you may push for that fifty-one page mark, but a few agents are picky and if their rules aren’t followed, than you’re out. I could not find if the count included the cover sheet or not. I assumed since I met her at a conference and agents receive hundreds of query requests and submissions daily, that I should include the cover sheet so she would remember the story, but I did not count that towards the fifty pages because my chapter three did end on page fifty. I’ll leave the cover sheet option up to you.
Here’s a few helpful websites:
- Writer’s Digest: First 50 Pages Checklist
- Writer’s Digest Raising the Stakes in First 50 Pages
- Video of First 50 Pages
L. R. Mauck