11. Criticism and encouragement

I suppose most people still think of an editor – in the book publishing industry, as opposed to a newspaper editor – as a professional reader and critic.

Ten or twenty years ago, publishing used to be about taking an unfinished typescript and helping the author turn it into something publishable. Now often the typescript is expected to be the finished product. Sometimes you wonder if the bottom line hasn’t become too important – the success of a single book more crucial than the career and the rest of the lines in between.

However, there are some brilliant book editors about and – if you’re lucky – you will find someone who gives you the support you need.

Otherwise, if you want sensitive, sympathetic criticism and encouragement, find yourself a reading buddy from among your family and friends or from your reading group or your creative writing class. Someone who is only ever constructive, not someone with an axe to grind of their own.

Better still, get yourself a good agent! I have … and it makes all the difference.