While declaring to everyone that phase one of the novel was finished, I sent my novel out to one more person. Oddly, this person is probably the most qualified person to read my novel, as she has a PhD in literature, lives in Seattle, and is one heck of a writer. Let me add to that that she is one heck of a first/second reader.
I first met her as part of a writer’s group here in Seattle, which folded within a year, after one meeting. She then started a writer’s group on her own, which had one meeting and never met again. We have kept in touch, and I have gone over to her house for several Thanksgivings. So, when I was debating whether to shell out $300 for a professional editor or just send out the manuscript as-is, I turned to her for advice.
Not that she suddenly found issues with the novel that hadn’t been brought up by other people, but her ways of addressing the problem made me realize 1.) that there was one serious problem that I needed to address before I could send it out, and 2.) there was a way to fix that problem without making the rest of the novel worse (which is my main concern when doing revisions. Yes, you can revise too much).
This is in no way a critique of my other first and second readers. Their critiques helped me tremendously in rewrites. But with her, I know two things: yes, I need to do another rewrite, and after that, it will be ready for agents and publishers to look at.
That doesn’t mean I will stop my phase two work, for that has already started, and those query letters should be ready to go as soon as this rewrite is finished. What it means is that I have someone locally who I can email and bounce ideas off of, who is herself a writer. Every writer needs a group of people whom they can trust to look at their work before it’s sent out, but I may have just found my point person.