Saturday, July 17, 2010

In search of a friend...

When an editor from Harlequin asked to see the first 50 pages of my book, I felt a surge of happiness that was soon followed by a thud of doom. I had no idea how the romance publishing business works. I needed help, pronto!

Fortunately, I'm a member of the RWA (Romance Writers of America), so I got on their website and checked out their list of agents. There are many places to find lists of agents, but I felt confident that the agents listed on the RWA were knowledgeable and trustworthy. I studied the names and found one who'd sold numerous books to publishers I recognized. I decided to send her an email. I inquired if she was taking on new clients. To my delight, she was willing to read a sample of my manuscript.

It's a scary thing to send your book to a professional. I've discovered that writing a romance novel is an intensely personal experience. It's easy to take it personally if someone doesn't like something that you've poured your heart and soul into; but I've discovered that it's important to take the risk. Sure, I've felt embarrassed and hurt if someone says something negative about my work; but more often than not, I learn a great deal from their constructive criticism. After all, these people know publishing. They know what the market is looking for, they know what constitutes a good plot, they know how to help a writer to become published.

I'm extremely grateful for the correspondence I've had with this particular agent. She has been extremely helpful, and I know that even if she ultimately decides not to take me on as a client, she has already made my work stronger, thanks to her willingness to show me what needs to be improved in my manuscript.

So, if you've got a manuscript, it's okay to be afraid to let someone else read it. Be recklessly brave. To be certain, there are so many agents and editors who just don't have much time to give feedback for all the manuscripts that cross their desks. However, there are lots of other places to find a helpful reader. Take a chance. Ask someone else to read your work. You might get lucky and find someone who will give you advice that will make you a better writer.

Places to find a reader:

  • Local support groups for aspiring writers
  • Writers who are published in your genre (they may be able to recommend affordable editors)
  • Creative writing classes (at the YMCA, Community Colleges, libraries, etc.)
  • Writing students at a nearby college (perhaps they'd offer feedback for a nominal fee)
  • Friends
  • Family
  • English teachers (particularly during the summer - I'd offer to pay a teacher for her time and input)


  1. Those are all really great tips. That's so great that you took the risk. It is hard to let someone else read my stuff, except my husband, but then he's hardly an unbiased critic. *L*

  2. Thank you for stopping by my blog Lynn and I'm glad you did. I really like your writing style thus the addition to your followers' list :)

  3. Thanks for visiting me on my SITS day. It's such a fun site.

  4. Thanks for your sweet comment on my blog today. And good luck with your book - that is wonderful!


  5. you are so brave! what a wonderful adventure, and i wish you much luck on getting your book published!

    Thanks for stopping by on my SITS Day! I really do appreciate it. Hope you will visit again sometime!

  6. Great tips!! Thanks for visiting my blog on my SITs day, just getting around to checking everyone's blog out! :-)

  7. This is great information! It is on my dream wish someday, but I am no where close in that direction. Congratulations on yours!

  8. Good luck with your book & Thanks for stopping by my blog and making my SITS Day great :)

  9. It takes time, perseverance and practice to be a good writer. But patience, good practical approaches and determination will bring your creative desire into concrete writing. Congrats & Good luck with the book.