Everyone has fans.
For instance, my Mum and Dad love everything I write but really wish I’d settle down and write a children’s book – none of this folklore business, or menacing horror stories (although Mum has indicated she wouldn’t mind a good crime novel!).
But finding other people to read and objectively critique your work – for free – is difficult. Friends will be supportive – they can’t help themselves, bless them, and that’s why they are friends – but if you’re lucky enough to have professional or published writers in your circle you will receive much more considered (and hopefully tactful) feedback.
These people are more familiar with story-writing conventions and the editing process, and recognise how valuable their critical feedback is to the writer.
Many established writers will attract diehard fans who are only too happy to avail their reading services, which can be handy if you’re looking for experts when it comes to fact-checking your fictional worlds, double-checking timelines and assessing continuity of story arcs across several books.
The pool of people you use to review and give feedback about your work are known in the independent publishing world as ‘Beta readers’. It’s nice to give Beta readers some recognition, whether it’s on your blog or in your book (perhaps with a free final physical signed copy of your work).
If you’re dealing with a fellow reader, you might agree to return the favour. In my own experience, it’s far easier to find people to critique short stories, particularly over the holiday period when people are looking for quick ‘fixes’ in the reading department.
Put the call out, you might be surprised how many people are waiting to read your work!