How to know your novel is ready

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Which option is better?

 

–Andrew lets people know he is an author. But whenever asked to show what he wrote, he claims it is a secret. He fears letting others see the story, lest they steal the ideas and make millions on his hard work. He is more suspicious than the private eye in his whodunit.

 

–Benjamin avoids telling others that he is an author, though many people realize it because he is too busy writing to have a life. Friends and even professors enjoy reading what he writes for class, but he refuses to share his novel with them, always saying it is not yet good enough.

 

–Christopher regularly brags about his writing and readily shows it to others. He blogs multiple times a week and has self published several books in the year since he began his writing career. Unfortunately, you can guess the quality of it because of so much in so little time.

 

So, this brings back the question: When should you show your book to others?

I recommend reading it four times first.

 

  1. Rough draft

You really haven’t read it, except to see what you are typing. It’s quite messy, but it’s a full story.

  1. 1st real read

At least a month after finishing your rough draft and hiding it, you take it out and read it section by section, fixing everything—spelling, grammar, inconsistencies. You hopefully delete a lot and clarify what is necessary.

  1. 2nd read

If possible, take off more time before this read. Start another novel, or force a vacation on yourself.

This time, read the story aloud and try to finish it all as fast as you can. Write notes, but do not fix them at this time. You hope to get a holistic view of the book.

  1. Special friend / spouse / writing group / editor…

Technically, yes, you are showing it to another person now, but you still may not feel ready to show it to anybody else. This is where my wife, Amanda, comes on the scene. Sometimes I read aloud to her as we cuddle. Her reading adds hundreds of notes to what I had thought was quite good. I am extremely thankful for Amanda and these comments.

A writing group can also work well for this part, although it helps if they don’t know much about the story. You want someone who is interested, but doesn’t know enough to clarify possibly confusing spots.

You may alter the 3rd and 4th steps, depending on how willing your special friend is to read something in process.

 

If you have shown it to your special friend and fixed it, then send it out! Try to have 5-10 more people read it and give you feedback on the main parts. Then take them out for a lunch and talk about it. Sent queries to agents or publishers. Now that the book is ready, do not be afraid to show it.

You will either find that people like it, or you’ll get the necessary advice to make it better.

 

So, what step are you on? If it’s rough, don’t show anybody yet. But if it’s ready, don’t keep it hidden. We want to see it.

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