At any given moment I can focus on one activity among many, e. g.
- improving my craft,
- finding a publisher, or
- building a platform for self-publishing.
The latter two options only make sense, if the quality of my storytelling is already good enough (nobody can sell a poorly written book, neither a publisher nor me; nobody will read a poorly written book, even if they can get it for free).
How can I get valuable feedback regarding whether or not my storytelling is good enough?
- Writing groups like Scribophile. There are several problems with this. First, you can only get feedback on the quality of the text (how well individual chapters are written), and not on such things as plot or emotional changes throughout the novel. Second, I am not sure that I can trust the feedback I get. I don't know those people and have no idea about their qualification (a good writer isn't necessarily a good editor). Third, in order to get feedback on one chapter of your book, you need to write three critiques of other people's works. On average, it takes at least an hour to write a good critique, so I have to spend 3 hours of my time to get my chapter reviewed. For a novel of 120 000 words with 2000 words in every chapter this amounts to 60 * 3 = 180 hours. In other words, in order to have my novel reviewed on Scribophile I would need to work for more than a month, full-time to write reviews for other people. That's not an option, if you (like me) have a full-time job.
- Coverage services. These are companies, which evaluate your writing for a fee and tell you whether or not it is good enough (incl. whether or not this movie may be produced). However, they only work with screenplays (if you know a coverage service that does this for novels and is not a scam, please tell me).
- Sending my book to publishers. In case the book is not good enough I won't receive any feedback at all. If they don't respond, I only will know that the quality is poor, but won't know what exactly is my biggest problem. Also, they may reject the book for non-literary reasons (e. g. because it may hurt someone's feelings).