A good reader is hard to find …
Yes, I find myself echoing Feargal Sharky today after actually finding an excellent reader 🙂 At this stage, I realize that I haven’t been giving my first novel to enough people to begin with. Being the lazy kind of git that I am, I gave it to a few people and when I didn’t get any feedback, I forgot all about it and moved on instead of keeping at it till I actually got some feedback. So here I find myself, ready to go the Print on Demand (PoD) route and I still haven’t had my novel read all the way through except by Laurie and one agent.
Now that I’ve received some concrete feedback (not the whole, "I like it and it’s good" variety :p) I am thankful that only one agent has read it instead of a few more – there definitely is a lot more room for improvement. Jasper Fforde once sent me some advice which he sends to all writers who contact him. (It’s a long story, I’ll tell you another day :p). In there, he said that good readers are hard to find and when you find one, you should wine and dine them to make sure that you don’t lose ’em. I now see what he means 🙂
Of course, it’s hard to find good readers. Everybody wants to read your stuff when you ask them. But about 80% of those you give the book to will not read it at all or read the first few pages and then forget about it. Of the rest, perhaps 19% will actually read it but will come back with very vague suggestions or a not quite helpful "I liked it" or "I didn’t really like it". Then there will be that rare 1% who will actually take the time to read your work, make detailed notes as to what worked, what didn’t and even offer suggestions on how to improve things. If you find such a reader, hang on to them – they are rarer than you think 🙂