Now there are many ways to go about this post. I can gather a bunch of quotes from successful authors telling you the best advice that worked for them or I could recommend some courses that will help you hone your craft. They both have their place, but the simple answer is feedback.
Now I say simple, but it isn’t really. For starters there are different types of feedback. There is the feedback from your alpha and beta readers, which is important from an audience’s perspective and then there is professional feedback. The first one is good to gauge how you are going with your manuscript and usually is by someone you know. Consequently they can word their feedback in a way that won’t destroy your soul. Not so when it comes to professional feedback.
That’s not to say they try to do this, but it is pretty harsh when a publisher or agent gets back to you with a simple no. Sometimes the rejection letters can be worded nicely, sometimes not. All of it ends with dreams dashed, scattered at your feet (dramatic but true for that moment in time). This scared the absolute hell out of me and was not something I really wanted to do, but hey, if I want to get published, onwards march.
Then I came across the Margaret River Readers and Writers Festival. There I had the opportunity to meet a published author who went over the first 5 000 words of my manuscript with me. It. Was. Invaluable.
I can not tell you enough how 20 minutes of this lady’s time helped to take my writing to another level. Deb Fitzpatrick (author of 90 Packets of Instant Noodles, The Amazing Spencer Gray and other works) pointed out where I was telling instead of showing and also where I was actually doing pretty good. I came away inspired but also armed with the knowledge of how to improve my writing.
Find a writers festival near you and if they offer something like that, do it!!!!!
It was scary letting a complete stranger read part of my manuscript and critique it, but I went there with the intention of learning from a professional and I did. Consequently that is how I intend to approach any feedback I receive from publishers and agents. I have set myself a deadline of the 15th August 2016. No more mucking around editing etc, time to get it out there and let my baby fly.
It may well and truly fall, but that does not mean I will give up. I’ll take on the feedback and continue to hone my craft. I view it as a learning curve on the journey to being published and that’s what this is all about.