My first rounds of beta feedback have started to filter in and for the most part it's been incredibly positive. I am using some of the same beta readers I used for my first book because I had a good relationship with them so it made sense. Chatting through their specific and general feedback they've told me that this book is so much better than my first book. This is not a back handed compliment because the beta feedback from my first book was over all positive, it's just a genuine observation.
Now I shouldn't be surprised, the more you do something you should get better at it so the second should be better than the first. Also this book was so much harder to write which in turn meant I had to work a lot harder to complete it.
It got me thinking though about whether or not my first book was actually the best it could be before I queried it. I went back and had a read and there are parts that I still love and I still think my dialogue is really strong. But the opening is slow and I'd completely delete the second chapter now because I can see it doesn't really add anything. I still like the characters and the overall premise of the book but I think I could have done a better job.
What am I saying? That I should never have queried that book? Well, no, actually that's not it at all, what I'm saying is that I queried too soon. after my editing and the beta feedback I should have stuck it in a drawer for a little while, gone away and done other stuff and come back to it, been more prepared to tear it apart and rebuild it. I have been much more brutal with the editing of my current book, wiped out entire scenes because they weren't good enough and spent hours reworking sections to make it more cohesive.
In the end it might make no difference, this new book might get as many rejections as the first. But I'm another year into my journey and I think I'm a little bit wiser. So what ever the outcome I know I’m putting forward a much better product than last time. I have taken more time to polish it and will continue working on it till I am sure it is the best version it can be. This time when I query I'll be more confident in what I'm trying to sell.
More than all of that though it is comforting to know that my skills have improved, that pushing myself to write this story, that at times felt like it was going to break me and that I wanted to hit delete and pretend I never had the idea in the first place, was worth it. That, that nagging sound at the back of my mind where this story sat never leaving me alone, making me write it was right.
Finishing my first book was a huge achievement and I am so proud of myself for doing it and maybe it never needed to be anything more than fertiliser for the stories that followed. Did I jump the gun in going out to query with it? Yes, definitely. Am I sorry I did it? Absolutely not, because I have learnt so much from the process.