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3 chapters or 50 pages?

My first 3 chapters currently add up to 10 A4 pages of 5,000 words total. A lot of agents ask for either 3 chapters or 50 pages and I was wondering whether I should send more of the book to make up 50 pages or keep it short and sweet?

Asked by: Alex Smith

  1. Alex Smith on January 1, 2018

    Thanks both for the help Matthew and Lorraine, I’ll stick to three chapters if given the choice.

  2. Matthew Keeley on December 31, 2017

    I'm guessing you mean when they actually give you the option and say "either send the first three chapters or fifty pages" rather than one or the other. I've noticed this a few times too. I'm not sure if there's a real answer to this but I tend to go for my first three chapters (which is much less than fifty pages - similar to yours). I assume they put the fifty-page mention in there just in case you have enormous chapters that go on and on and so they're not going to read anymore than fifty pages if you still haven't reached the end of your third chapter by that point.
    So I'd go with your three chapters. Like Lorraine says, they just want a flavour of your writing and I reckon they're so swamped under with submissions that they're going to realise by ten pages whether or not they're enjoying your work and aren't going to keep going much further beyond that if their interest hasn't been piqued. Just my guess.

  3. Lorraine Swoboda on December 25, 2017

    Send exactly what is asked for. Otherwise you risk the agent chucking the whole lot in the bin. If they want 3 chapters, send 3 chapters. If they want 50 pages, that's what you send. They usually ask for a synopsis of the rest. The 3 chapters are just to give a flavour of your writing, while the synopsis gives them an idea of your plotting ability and the progress of your story from A to Z. And yes, you do need to say what happens in the end!


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