A prospective author I spoke with last week wanted to know what the next step should be in getting his manuscript published. The author told me about the project’s subject (a subject outside of what I publish) and explained that he had already written quite a bit of the manuscript, a non-fiction work, and wondered if he should approach agents or publishers about getting the manuscript published.
So I asked him who had read the manuscript.
No one, he admitted.
I’ve run into this situation before. Somehow some authors miss a critical step in preparing a manuscript for submission to agents and publishers — criticism. No author does his best work without feedback from others — feedback that identifies problems with a manuscript, that mentions its strengths and weaknesses and helps the author to decide what to change and what to leave alone.
In this case the author recognized the wisdom of getting criticism, and asked me to read and criticize his manuscript.
Of course, I said no.