Who should read your first draft then?

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So, back here I talked about 3 people who I don’t think should ever read your first (or early) drafts and when I wrote that post, I promised I’d come back to you with who I think should be reading your initial drafts.  And here they are:

1. People in your target audience
Back in 2010 when I first had the idea for Diary of a Penguin-napper, I wrote the first chapter one Sunday afternoon and took it in to school with me the next day.  (I’m a teacher, as it happens, not just some weirdo who turns up at schools!) Anyway, I read the first chapter to my Year 4 class and they both laughed and wanted to know what happened next in the story, which was a good indication that I was on the right track.  After the school holidays, I then read them the rest of the story and made notes/tweaks/amendments as I went along, hearing the story out loud for the first time and hearing the kids’ reactions to it.

Letting people in your target audience read your manuscript is a great idea because

2. Critique partners and beta readers
In essence, you just find yourself a writing buddy (probably someone in a similar genre to you) or writing group who you can have read your work and who will provide you with some feedback on it.  In return, you do the same for them.  I haven’t really been involved in a critique group or partnership myself (as I always imagine it can be a bit time consuming), but there is some great information the role of the SOCP (Strictly Objective Critique Partners) here at YA Highway.

Whilst I haven’t been part of a critique group, I do have some ‘beta readers’ of sorts.  These people who I send my early drafts to and who have provided thoughtful, solid feedback on different manuscripts.  They are an invaluable sounding board for me and even though I don’t read work for them, I do try and reward them in other ways (like cake or lunch), so they’ll be happy to keep helping me out.

3.  Manuscript assessment critique services
After I had finished writing Diary of a Penguin-napper and had read it to my classmy next step was to send it to a manuscript assessment service. I had never used one of these before, but I decided that even though it would be a cost, it would be valuable to get a professional opinion on what could be improved in my manuscript.

I ended up going through the Literary Consultancy because I found that, even with the GBP to AUD currency conversion, they were still the most affordable for a manuscript that particular length.  I was extremely happy with the editorial feedback they provided, as it was detailed, thoughtful and gave me specific things to work on to improve my manuscript.  And I felt like I got value for money, which is also important.  This feedback gave me a direction for future drafts and has definitely helped to shape the final manuscript.

And there you have it.  Leave your comments below – I want to know: Do you have anyone in particular that you like to share your writing with?  Or anyone that you don’t?

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