First Pages, First Promises: A Two-Night Mini

Online | Picture Books, Early Readers and Chapter Books, Novels, Nonfiction, Business of Publishing
Crafting a first page that is satisfying to your reader sets the tone for your entire book. Tune into this short course to analyze examples from a variety of fiction and nonfiction works, and engage in the discussion between author and agent to inform your own work.

September 26 @ 7:00 pm - September 28 @ 8:15 pm




A Two-Night Mini Online Course

First pages offer a promise to our readers. No matter the genre, no matter the form—a first page is an invitation to your entire book. Join young adult author Laura Sibson and agent Leslie Zampetti for this short course to understand the promise in a powerful first page.

  • Tuesday, September 26, 2023 (7pm – 8:15pm Eastern)
  • Thursday, September 28, 2023 (7pm – 8:15pm Eastern)
  • Webinar-style program with closed captioning available and limited interaction in the chat.
  • You’ll have access to the recordings through October 31, 2023.

Why This Workshop?

Crafting a first page that is satisfying to your reader sets the tone for your entire book. Tune into this short course to analyze examples from a variety of fiction and nonfiction works, and engage in the discussion between author and agent to inform your own work.

Author Laura Sibson and agent Leslie Zampetti will discuss:

  • The promise of the first page,
  • Readers’ hopes for your first page,
  • Elements that invite an agent’s and/or editor’s attention,
  • An overview of “first pages” opportunities for writers, including pitch sessions and conference critiques,
  • Revision tips for your first page,
  • Some first page stumbles,
  • and more!

Feedback Expected

  • None included in the course. There will be limited interaction in the chat feature of the webinar-style program.
  • A small number of student submission samples will be used during the program. If you would like to be considered for this opportunity, please submit the text from your first page (up to 250 words) at the time of registration. (A limited number of first pages will be used as samples during the program.)

It’s a Great Fit If…

  • You have an in-progress or completed draft of a picture book, middle grade or young adult novel, or chapter book. All books have a “first page.” Join us to find out what makes them work.
  • You want valuable strategies to engage your readers from the very first page.
  • You’re wondering if a first page critique or add-on session is right for you. Hear from an author and agent about the value of these feedback sessions.
  • You could use some direction on your story ideas. There will be a number of topics covered to help spark new ideas.
  • You’re looking for something short, sweet, and smart! This is not a full workshop. Instead it is two, 75-minute sessions meant to engage and build your understanding of first pages.

Tentative Agenda

At registration: You will receive a Zoom link to use each night of the course.

At registration: You have the opportunity to submit text from a first page (up to 250 words) from a work in progress at registration. Only a few will be selected to analyze during the course.


If you are unable to attend either session for any reason, you’ll have access to the recordings (with closed captioning) through October 31, 2023.

Please note that if you register for the course after the start of the first session, you will not receive recordings immediately.  You’ll receive both recordings after the close of the last session, usually within 24 hours.

All Times are Eastern Standard Time.

Part One: Tuesday, September 26, 2023 (7pm-8:15pm Eastern)
  • The Promise of the First Page
  • Analyzing long-form first pages and short-form first pages
  • First Pages Homework
Part Two: Thursday, September 28, 2023 (7pm-8:15pm Eastern)
  • Revision tips and strategies for first pages (bring your homework to try the strategies)
  • What is a first page critique session, and do I need one?
  • Open Q & A

How It Impacts Kids

Readers deserve powerful stories from the start. Learn to craft your first pages that connect with young readers.

Testimonials from Our Community

“Keep the mini courses going for those of us that can’t attend at the Highlights Foundation Campus! It helps us stay in touch and keep our skills growing!!

“I knew I could not attend in person but I signed up because you offered the recording. Having that option was invaluable.”

Meet the Faculty


September 26 @ 7:00 pm - September 28 @ 8:15 pm




When you register for this course, you’ll receive information via email to confirm.

For mini courses (one or two sessions only), you’ll receive webinar links immediately to use on the day of the course.

For longer courses, you’ll receive an invitation to your virtual classroom as the workshop approaches.

Can't Attend Some Sessions Live?

That's generally okay!  We know that you are juggling other demands with your workshop.

Recordings are made available to all registrants for most live sessions, usually the day after the session.  Check your course description for specific details about session recordings, and when they are released.

We also try to suggest in the description how using the recordings may impact your experience if you can't attend live.  But ultimately, it's up to you!  Let us know if you need help.

Learn more about the technology that we use for our online workshops.

Workshops for Writers & Illustrators

> Online
> In-Person
> On-Demand (Self-Paced Online)

New to the Highlights Foundation? Try these:

About Children's Publishing | The Whole Novel Workshop | Summer Camp


Need help deciding on a workshop?  Ask an ambassador!

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Our campus (The Barn at Boyds Mills) is tucked away in the foothills of the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania.  It's a few hours from both New York City and Philadelphia, but worlds away from everyday life.

Line drawing of the Barn at Boyds Mills

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