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Making Your Work Rejection-Proof

Ryan McGuire

How 8 Kinds of Readers Can Help You Make Every Word Count

1. Friends and family: You need and deserve encouragement; let your friends and family give it to you. They will tell you they like your work because they like you. What are friends and family for?

2. Writers: Tell writers you will critique their work. This will give you
experience improving prose and help you build a community of writers willing to return the favor.

3. A writing group: Join or start a writing group, online or off—that meets regularly to discuss its members’ work, so you can get feedback as you write. Working with more experienced writers than yourself will prove more productive than working with less experienced writers. Being able to give and receive constructive criticism is crucial. You may have to try more than one group until you find one that gives you what you need and whose members will benefit from your advice.

4. Potential buyers: They may not be experts on writing or on the subject, but they know what they like. Would they buy your book if they found it in a bookstore? Try to enlist knowledgeable booksellers—you also want them to buy your book—to render an opinion at least on your idea, title, and promotion plan. (The better customer you are, the more likely they’ll oblige.)

5. Well-read, objective readers: They know good writing.

6. Experts in your field: Approach people who know what you’re writing about, including experts, academics, influencers, and authors of books like yours.

7. A devil’s advocate: Find a mentor whose taste and judgment you respect, and in whose knowledge you have absolute confidence. A devil’s advocate is a word wizard who can combine truth with charity, analyze the structure and development of your book, and spot every word, punctuation mark, idea, character, and incident that can be improved or removed.

8. A freelance editor: Find an editor who has either worked for the kind of
publisher or edited like books yours that were published by the kind of house you want for your book. But don’t just rely on an editor. The more readers you have, the better.