Different types of readers(7 Posts)
I've completed my first draft of my novel (commercial literary fiction/book club). I am working on my second draft and think I will soon be at the point where I want to get other people reading it. I have a few options, some friends who are well read, some people who I met on a creative writing course and who are used to workshopping and I also have some money set aside for a formal maniscript review.
Whilst I am conscious of not having loads of different people read it, I'd like at least one of each of the above to do so. So my question is, what's the best order? Should I get the draft as close to ready to send to agents as possible before paying for a manuscript review, or is it better to do this and then ask for less formal readers to have a final look?
What will you actually be looking for from your readers? Advice about plot, pacing etc? Reading for punctuation errors, typos and so on?
Your friends may be able to tell you what they liked or didn't like, but they won't necessarily be able to give you specific editorial advice, or suggest agents. There's also the likelihood that if several different people read it, you'll get a lot of conflicting opinions and advice, and you'll be no better off.
I'm never sure about the value of informal critiques. The one time I participated in a critique group, with other writers, the person who read the first chapter of my then wip asked me what the relationship was between two of the characters. I went to look, thinking I needed to clarify, only to find I'd mentioned it three times in the chapter.
In short, if you really want to spend the money, I'd wait until you feel it's as good as you can get it, then pay for a professional assessment.
I agree with Harriet. I write and have done all three of those things. The professional critique was by far the most useful. I only had the first three chapters done but if I had the money I would have done it all. That said, I'm sure it does depend on who ends up doing the professional review - I know there are people out there who do it and aren't very good at all. There's a whole industry built around taking money from new writers and it is easy to be conned.
I did find the critiques from writing friends useful but it's patchy, depending on their own strengths as a reviewer and their taste. And you can get different views on the same issue, which can be confusing if you don't trust your own instincts.
Friends were hopeless. They just said they liked it and picked up a couple of typos. Nothing in between.
Thanks for the tips. I should say that the main contact from the creative writing course has reviewed a few shorter pieces (both from the novel and other stories) and I've found her feedback really thorough so far.
Fair point about friends though!
I think the only thing friends can say is they like it. Who's going to tell you the opposite?
There's a whole industry built around taking money from new writers and it is easy to be conned.
I agree with this. There are some long established, respected critique services out there, but caution is required.
OP, can your work be classed as romance? The Romantic Novelists' Association runs a New Writers' Scheme which might be helpful:
Thanks, no not really romance unfortunately.
My friends are super honest in all areas of life (sometimes too honest ) so I may give it a try anyway but will bear in mind all the advice here.
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