Finally. Well, for now since this is just the smoothed-over draft and I really have no idea whether or not it might suck completely. At this stage, lots of different things can happen to a manuscript, depending on where you are contractually.
Sometimes, after a book or two, writers sell fiction on proposal, which means their publisher buys based on an idea, a few chapters and maybe an outline. They'd have a set deadline for finishing the draft and send it directly to their editor (possibly to beta readers first if they were far enough ahead of deadline). The upside? Security. The downside? Stress.
None of my books have been written under contract. I'm still doing it old school where I write the whole book and clean it up completely, which can happen a bunch of different ways. Some people use a critique group or crit partners who swap their writing and give feedback. Some use friends or family. Some send directly to their agent.
With early drafts of The Mark, I did a little of all of this. I took a writing class at a local community college and another at a writer's center to get reactions to the early chapters. Then one of the other students and I swapped novels for feedback. My parents and sisters and a bunch of friends all read drafts. And finally, when I got an agent, she weighed in too.
The process was a lot more streamlined with The Vision. My friends Beth and Kristy read. Then my agent. Then my parents and sisters. Then it sold.
This book, Touch, is going to Beth and a friend's husband who has expertise in one of the plot areas. I've split with my agent (more on this another time) so, depending on what Beth and Ted say, I'll probably have my parents and sisters do a second read to get the manuscript super-clean before I start the query process which I'm really hoping will be like these manuscript edits: a lot more streamlined this time around.