So, the feedback from my beta-readers has been trickling in.
It's been mostly what I expected: I have the bones of a very good story, but it needs some tinkering and fleshing out yet. What needs work? The same things that usually do: the basics.
I think a lot of writers who have pulled off the feat of finishing a book sometimes forget: it's often the basics that will trip you up. Grammar, punctuation, characterization, setting the scene. The scary part? Often we, the writers, are the last to see those mistakes.
Success in the indie world goes beyond just talent. This is true whether you are an indie musician, filmmaker, or author. Talent will get your foot in the door. The thing that gets you a seat at the table is professionalism. Producing professional-grade work is the difference between writing on your 10-minute break at WalMart, and writing for a living.
Cue the lecture on the importance- no, necessity- of beta readers. There is no way you as the author will catch all the little mistakes/weird sentences/plot holes in your manuscript. Trust me on this. Need proof of how important outside feedback is? Just read some of the indie published works out there. I guarantee, you will be able to tell who went the extra mile and who didn't.
So, for the love of god and all things literary, find some people you trust to give you an honest opinion, and give them your baby. No conditions, no restraint. Then, once they've read it, listen to what they have to say. And remember: critiques are not a referendum on you personally. They are the genuine attempts of people to help you reach your goal, which (I assume) is to be a successful, sought-after author.
When I sent off my revised first draft to my volunteer readers (whom I love and appreciate), I knew it wasn't Shakespeare, but I definitely didn't realize I had so much to fix. It's okay, my ego can take it.
And I would much rather hear it now than in an Amazon review.