Will people like it? Is it a “page turner”? Are the characters believable?
If my mother were to answer these questions about my soon-to-be published book, she would answer “People will love it. I could hardly put it down!” I could ask any number of family members and they’d answer the same. Families.
If I’d pose the same question to my friends, I’d get a similar response. Except, maybe for a few who read A LOT. They’d expound by adding comments about spelling, grammar, syntax, and verb tense.
Ah, but now, when my critique group is asked for their honest opinions, I get suggestions for improvement, pointing out issues with point-of-view, voice, and so on.
If I enter a writing contest, based on reading my synopsis and 10-15 pages, judges will use a rubric to assess such things as a good “hook”, marketability, professional impact, and pacing. They may even respond to the question of whether, if they were an editor, they would ask to see the entire manuscript, based on reading such a small writing sample.
From those comments—some from very prejudiced persons—I base my decision as to whether or not my book is ready to send to an editor, a publisher, or whether it is in need of extensive revision. Three groups of people, each with a unique connection to this writer, each with a different focus, each possessing varying degrees of expertise.
So, I’m left with a big decision. Which group, if any, should my professional-writing self listen to? The one with the most expertise? The group of avid readers? Professional judges?
And, if I do listen, do I act on their advice? Do I base my future actions on what they have to say? How much weight do I give their comments over my inner voice—the one that desires to move forward and get that first novel published?
Lots of opinions. Lots of questions. I’m not sure I have the answers—yet.
So, I make a decision to read yet another “how to” book, attend just one more professional conference, sign up for an additional writing course. With added confidence, I decide to trust—
the voice inside my head,
my common sense,
what I know to be true.