Who should read my book?

by Marissa
(Ohio)

Question After I finish my book should I have some of my friends and family read it before I send it to an agent or publisher so I know if it's good or not? 0r should I just send it to an agent or publisher? or does it not really matter?


Answer: Before you send a query letter to an agent or publisher, you want to know your manuscript is the best it can be, because that will improve your chances of making a sale.

Sometimes, we are so close to our work that we don't recognize if something isn't working. With that in mind, it can help to get some feedback from other people who approach it from a different perspective.

Bear in mind, you have to take feedback differently according to who is giving it. Family and friends might be overly kind in some ways. On the other hand, they may not be the ideal audience for your story. And they may not have a lot of expertise in writing.

If they generally like books in your genre and can be honest, they can be a good source of feedback. However, what you want to pay attention to is not what they say about the book as much as how emotionally engaged with the book they become. More engagement is better.

If they don't show much enthusiasm or emotional response, that can be a bad sign. But you must use your judgement. Sometimes people you know can be jealous or surprised by what you write and that can make them less appear less responsive (for instance, you write a steamy sex scene that turns them on, but they don't want to admit it and they can't believe such graphic thoughts came out of your innocent head because they always thought they were more worldly than you).

Also, average readers can usually tell you what they liked about the book, or what parts bored them. But they aren't often good at telling you how to fix problems (even if they think they are). You have to figure out how to improve the story on your own.

An alternative is to show your book to people who have more expertise, such as other writers you know. Sometimes you can get free inexpensive critiques from pros, but you have to hunt around. Conferences, for example, often offer such opportunities. (You can also pay a lot of money for critiques, so be careful.)

A lot of writers find it beneficial to join a writers' critique group where everyone critiques each other's work. Even then, you have to use your own judgment regarding the feedback you get. Some groups are better than others.

At the very least, it can be quite helpful to have a friend who is good at grammar and punctuation proofread your work before you submit it. A fresh set of eyes can often spot simple errors that you don't (because we tend to gloss over our own work).

Click here to post comments

Join in and submit your own question/topic! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Questions About Novel Writing.


 Step-by-Step Novel Planning Workbook


NEW! Make Money Writing Nonfiction Articles


"I've read more than fifty books on writing, writing novels, etc., but your website has the most useful and practical guidance. Now that I understand how a novel is structured, I will rewrite mine, confident that it will be a more interesting novel." - Lloyd Edwards



"Thanks to your "Create a Plot Outline in 8 Easy Steps," I was able to take a story that I simply just fooled around with and went willy nilly all over, into a clearly defined, intriguing battle where two characters fight to keep their relationship intact, and try to find a balance in control of themselves and their lives. Thanks to you, I'm not ashamed of the poor organization of my writing." - Nommanic Ragus

"I am so glad I found your site. It has helped me in so many ways, and has given me more confidence about myself and my work. Thank you for making this valuable resource, for me and my fellow writers. Perhaps you'll hear about me someday...I'll owe it to you." - Ruth, Milton, U.S.A.

"I never knew what to do with all the characters in my head, but since discovering Dramatica I am writing again in my spare time. Thank you for making this available. Yes, it is a bit complex, and it does take time, but I love it because it works." - Colin Shoeman

"I came across your website by chance. It is a plethora of knowledge, written in a simplistic way to help aspiring writers. I truly appreciate all of the information you have provided to help me successfully (relative term) write my novel. Thank you very much!" - Leo T. Rollins

"I can honestly say that this is the first website that is really helpful. You manage to answer complex questions in relatively short articles and with really intelligent answers. Thank you for taking the time to write these articles and sharing them so generously." - Chrystelle Nash

"...had no idea that a simple click would give me such a wealth of valuable information. The site not only offered extremely clear and helpful instructions but was a very enjoyable read as well. The education from your wonderful site has made me a better writer and your words have inspired me to get back to work on my novel. I wish to give you a heartfelt thanks for How to Write a Book Now, sir." -- Mike Chiero