I'm at point where I'm looking back on how I wrote my first novel. I think I'm figuring out a second one, but there are a number of stories to chose from and various reasons to hop one way or another. Or to procrastinate by thinking about which one to write. But in the thinking I wondered about something relating to how I wrote the first one.
When I started the novel, I was escaping from writing screenplays where I felt there were too many fingers in a pie that, in its early stages at least, should have been all mine. So, for a year I wrote, showed no-one, and talked about process with 'buddies' - one in particular - while we either ate cake or walked round the park, depending on the weather. When I'd finished, I didn't know who to get to read my novel. My friends are mainly writers, but friends is what they are and I want them to stay that way. Screenwriting experiences have made me wary of asking people I love to give me feedback - and vice versa. I sent my novel out to agents. At first I got little feedback. I plucked up the courage to ask some writers I had met recently, and respected very much, to read for me. Their comments were pretty positive. I got a report done, but it took me ages to find someone to do it in whom I had sufficient confidence.
The thing that worries me, as far as writing the next novel is concerned, is that I don't feel I have any more sense of who my beta-readers should be now, than I did then. And I mean beta-readers in the sense of fairly early-stage readers, who are prepared to dig in. I think this is very difficult with a project as long as a novel. I'm very curious about how other authors deal with this. Have you found trusted readers, for whom you possibly read too? I have an agent now, but I can't help feeling there should be an in-between stage, where I whisper to someone off-stage that I think I'm ready, but I know I'm not really, so would that someone very special, that very tender, yet very honest person, please come and take a look.