Writing can be a very isolating hobby, or job for a few lucky individuals out there. This is particularly true when it comes to creative writing. When you embark upon a creative writing project you find that almost all of your time is taken up with thinking about the characters, the places and the plot line and sub plots of your story. You build up a world that is entirely plausible to you, and that hopefully once it is on paper it will become fully plausible to others too. But initially, when you are still drafting your novel and creating your characters and the world that they live in, you are the only person around you who is 'living' in this newly created world. Only you can see it, only you know the characters within it, and so you find that you don't really have anyone to discuss this world with or bounce ideas off of.
Fast forward several weeks, months or sometimes even years and you find yourself sitting in front of your computer with an entire manuscript completed. You have reached that all important milestone; you've finished your book! You think it's brilliant (well you must be happy with it by now otherwise you wouldn't be thinking of it as 'finished') and you are ready to get it out there in the public domain - you want it published.
Before you rush out to buy copious amounts of paper and ink to get your synopsis and sample chapters printed however, it is worth stepping back and considering getting some external feedback on your manuscript. After all, you think it is a great read, but then you have been working with these characters and the book location for a while now. How do you know what other people will think of the book? How do you know if there aren't small amendments that you could make to the novel that would enhance the storyline or characters dramatically? This information can only be found out if you seek feedback from other people before you submit your manuscript to literary agents or publishers. By seeking feedback from others, you are giving yourself a chance to make amendments to your manuscript that could mark the difference between your manuscript being accepted by a publisher or literary agent or being rejected.
External feedback can be sought in a number of ways:
- From friends and family
- Via a professional writer or editor
- Via a manuscript editorial service
- From discussion at writer groups
- By sharing your manuscript with others involved in writing, and / or publishing
It can feel a little embarrassing or awkward to share your manuscript with others, after all it is very precious to you and don't want to hear any feedback that could be thought of as 'negative', and there is always a certain amount of vulnerability involved in letting others into this world that you have spent so long creating. If you feel very self conscious about getting your work read by others, then it is perhaps better to ask a professional editor or manuscript editorial service to review your work, as you will be anonymous to them, and visa versa. Whichever route you choose, try to keep in mind that if you want your book to be published then ultimately it will be read by many, and so you will need to overcome this fear of sharing your work early on in the publication process, otherwise you'll find that it restricts the attainment of your ultimate goal.