This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
by Anna Bell
A novel starts its life as your baby. You’re pretty much in total control and, until you share it with others, you’re in charge. Unfortunately, it can’t stay your baby forever. It’s going to be read by readers who can be the harshest (or the most loving) of critics. You let people in – editors, publishers, test readers – in order to make your manuscript the best it can be before those tough critics (the readers) read it. But how do you know when the time is right to share your work with others?
I’m a huge believer in letting others read your work. As long as you trust the person reading it and value their opinion, they usually make your book better. It could be that they flag up a weak storyline or they spot a major plot hole. Maybe they don’t like aspects of your protagonist's personality. Whatever they spot, it’s only going to make you edit your work again with a fresh eyes. I usually find test readers point out areas of the manuscript that I knew were weak myself, but I couldn’t work out how I was going to fix it. A mere comment or small suggestion from them, however, seems to make me dig deeper and I suddenly know how to make the book better.With this in mind, you’d think I wouldn’t have a problem giving my novel to my editor or a test reader for comment. I have, after all, sung their praises and know their comments are worth their weight in gold – it’s just a matter of when to share it.
I was going to send my editor my WIP once I’d finished my first major edit. I was going to strengthen and iron out the storylines so that the story read as a complete book, but it would be rough around the edges with clumsy prose and areas lacking in humour. I finished the first edit and, whilst I’m now really happy with the storylines, I still wasn’t ready to share it. I decided that I’d give it to my editor after my next edit. The next edit I’m doing is a ruthless one. My WIP is the longest I’ve written at 107,000 words – during edit one it had grown by ten thousand words. So edit number to is to slash the word count, tidy up the prose, and try and interject some much needed humour. I’ll probably cheat and do one teeny-tiny proofread edit – and then I’m sending it. Really I will, or at least my deadline of 1st August will force me to send it!
I know my manuscript won’t be perfect when it goes off, but I’d rather it not be. I want to be happy with it, but feel that there’s room for improvement. I remember when my publisher wanted me to re-write the first few chapters of Don’t Tell the Groom. I found it really difficult as I’d self-published, meaning I’d been through the line editing and copy editing stages during that process, and I felt it was finished. That’s why, for me at least, I find it so much easier mentally to let people in relatively early in the editing process, rather than near the end.
It’s such a huge step sharing a novel for the first time – when do you usually share yours? And who do you share it with?