I am just about finished with the first draft of a novel I've been working on. I've been writing novels for about ten years and I've self-published a couple, but I'm looking to peek into the world of "real" publishing. I've been struggling to find resources about how this process should actually work. I didn't study anything related to creative writing or even writing at all in college (beyond my gen ed requirements) and my "normal" job isn't at all related -- this has just been a longtime passion/hobby of mine.
So, my question is: how much editing should I realistically do before I start sending in query letters? I know it would be helpful to have beta readers or anyone to give advice, but unfortunately no one I know has time for that! Supposing I finish my draft by the 15th I'll have written about 100k words in 2.5 months, so fairly quick but nothing crazy. I'm planning to do a full pass through after that, catch the smaller errors and also take detailed notes on the structure so I can tackle it more thoroughly moving forward.
But how many drafts should I get in before I start seeking advice for publication? My dilemma here is this: When I self-published, I was pretty lax about editing. I didn't want to put a ton of time and energy into a technically perfect piece when I was mainly just writing it for myself and a small audience (those projects weren't taken very seriously, but I'm still proud of them). I had some amateur friends give them a read, but for the most part it was all me.
I'd rather not spend a year of my free-time-life editing something and THEN get mountains upon mountains of rejection letters, if that makes sense. I'd rather know now if I have a chance of publishing professionally -- becoming a NYT bestselling author isn't the goal, just getting a book on the bookshelf and going through the process been a dream of mine since childhood -- but like I said, I have no clue how this process should work!
Basically, any guidance as to how I should approach my editing and promotion after finishing a first draft would be GREATLY appreciated.
Sorry if I was a bit rambly and disorganized with all that... I should really be asleep but I was up late writing. Again. Surprise! Anyway -- thanks, all, in advance!!