Letting other people—even those close to you—read your novel for the first time can be stressful. You’ll wonder if they’re going to judge you, if they’ll recognize themselves in there, or if you really want your mother to know that you know about these things.
But after the first few times, you get used to it, and you’ll offer your manuscript to pretty much anyone who shows the slightest interest.
Then you come to the next level, maybe after a few rewrites based on the feedback from friends and family or even distant beta readers. After a while, you have to take that next step, to show it to someone in the publishing industry who will view it with a more critical eye.
An agent (and these days, it’s more likely to be an agent in the first place than a publisher) will pretty much give you a straight yes or no in the first instance. For most writers, even the ones who are now successful, the answer will often be no with little explanation beyond: it’s not for me.
An editor, on the other hand, will give you much more detailed feedback. It’s not unusual, for example, for me to write 20 to 30 pages of analysis for any one novel. And the nature of editing means that much of that feedback will come across as negative since you won’t improve so much of your novel by only hearing praise. [Read more…]