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NaNoWriMo Day 15 - Choosing Your First Reader

Thursday 15th November - Choosing Your First Reader

Some of us write books we never intend the world to see.  Writing for yourself is absolutely fine, but many of us like to imagine someone reading our books.  Sometimes we dream of hitting the Bestseller List, which everyone queuing down the street on release day, or sometimes we imagine our books in the hands of a certain someone.

Whichever the dream, your First Reader will most likely be someone different, but their role is nonetheless important.  Your First Reader will be someone who you have to convince, but also someone you trust.  They should at least have an appreciation of the style and genre in which you're writing, but they don't have to be avid readers of it.

Here are a few things to consider when choosing your first reader:

  1. Trust - This is the *most* important thing.  When sharing a manuscript, you're opening a little window onto your soul.  All writers, whatever they claim, but an element of themselves into their writing.  You need to know your first reader won't call into question yourself through your writing.
  2. Confidentiality - Sure, you want them to tell people about this amazing book you gave them to read, but at the same time you don't want them to blab about plot spoilers and the like.
  3. Suitability - Find a reader with an interest in your book.  They don't have to be the target audience, but they do have to be engaged.
  4. Constructive Criticism - I'm going to argue a slightly contentious idea here... If your First Reader returns with no suggestions, they probably weren't the right person to choose!  That's not to say you have to take on board their suggestions, but you want to know they've engaged enough to have formed their own opinions.  When I sent my first book to my First Reader I enclosed a little notebook for her feedback.  Some of it I acted on, some of it I chose to leave.
  5. Edit First - Don't expect your First Reader to be an editor or a proofreader - they're in it for the story!  Make sure you've done *at least* a read through to catch any of the obvious typos and grammatical issues.


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