When I initially contacted a literary agent I had a strange phone conversation:
me: Hi, I am David and I have a manuscript that I would like you to consider
LA (Lit Agent): Are you an established author?
LA: Then it'll be rubbish, dear
me: My friends like it
LA: They are your friends, dear. They don't want to upset you
Harsh but fair. I took that criticism on board and learned how to make my own book (this is before I discovered Lulu and Createspace etc). I then asked the local library if I could display copies, which they did. I also gave copies to people at work that I didn't know.
When I received praise it felt much more genuine and so I felt that the LA was correct in this aspect at least. You do need to get people you don't know to review your work. Time has told and, many reviews later, I hope that my books are well received and are not rubbish.
I also received some less than favourable comments, but this is very welcome (if disappointing) and helps the author to grow. It must be said that not everyone has the same taste and an author has to accept both good and bad reviews. I did have one very damning review, but when I looked at this persons other reviews he also hated a book by Steven King, so I was actually in very good company.
Beta readers are very useful although I learned about them too late for my current books. These are non-professional readers who will accept a book at a good quality standard, but that might still have some blemishes. Anyone reading this who can elaborate or tell us where best to find beta readers -- please feel free to post. I found this on Goodreads http://www.goodreads.com/group/show/50920-beta-reader-group and it describes more about beta readers and what to expect.
Goodreads is a great place to visit so if you haven't - check it out, dear.
If you want to learn more about making a book:
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