- Okay, so you have your first draft. You are proud of it or you're just plain sick of it. And now it's time to get some feedback. This is a very crucial point in the process. I strongly recommend you don't try to secure an agent until you've had at least three people read your manuscript and offer you criticism. These people can be your family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, other writers. Anyone whose opinion you trust, and who preferably reads often. If you can't find anyone you know to read your work, try joining a writing critique group.
There are tons of them in almost every major city. These are groups of writers who get together to exchange feedback on each others work. They can be very helpful for a lot of authors. You can find more information about these types of groups and where to find them, plus other tips on revising in the Revising Your Novel PDF handout in the Resources section of this lecture. Plus, when it is time to get feedback on your novel, check out the exercise titled Getting Feedback. There are also hundreds of author organizations you can join to meet and network with fellow writers.
One of the most well-known organizations is Romance Writers of America, which by the way, is not just for romance writers. For young adult and children's book writers I also recommend looking into SCBWI, the Society for Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. As a member of one of these organizations you'll have access to online writing courses, local events, and guest speakers in your area, plus conferences. Author organizations that I recommend can also be found in the Revising Your Novel PDF handout.
Regardless of whether you use any of the people you meet through author organizations to critique your work, I still highly recommend you make friends with other authors. This is something I didn't know when I first started out, and I wish I had. I braved the path alone and it was a very lonely and frustrating path at times. Looking back I would have really liked to have someone to talk to, commiserate with, and celebrate with. No one understands the roller coaster life of an author better than another author. Now I'm surrounded by many very good friends who are authors and they're always my first call when something goes right or wrong in my career.
And they can always be counted on for support. Regardless of whether you're published yet or not, this kind of support is invaluable. An additional recommendation for revising your manuscript is to hire a freelance editor. Although this is somewhat of a financial investment, it can be well worth it for many authors. A freelance editor is generally someone who has worked in the publishing industry and now edits manuscripts on their own. You can hire them to read your draft and offer structural and editorial feedback. Most freelance editors will also provide what's called a line edit, which is when an editor goes line by line through your manuscript and offers critiques on every page.
According to the Editorial Freelancer's Association a freelance editor can typically charge anywhere between $50 and $80 per hour for developmental and/or line editing, and they get through anywhere between one and six pages per hour. So for a manuscript of 250 pages, this can range anywhere between $3,000 and $5,000 or more depending on complexity. Although this might seem like a lot, this investment could provide the set of notes that pushes your manuscript to the next level. I have never personally hired a freelance editor, but I know many authors who have and were very happy with the results.
- Comparing traditional publishing and self-publishing
- Writing and revising your novel
- Finding an agent
- Perfecting your pitch
- Writing a query letter
- Researching agents
- Submitting to agents
- Reading your book contract
- Negotiating advances and royalties
- Understanding the publishing process