One of the hardest things to get as a writer is honest, constructive criticism. People worry they'll hurt your feelings but I say, HURT ME!
Without criticism you can't grow. And when it comes to trying to flog books, you need all the input you can get because rejection letters very seldom say why you are rejected. It could be that the agent/publisher is not taking on new clients, or that they don't want to deal with someone who doesn't live in their country, or they aren't covering your kind of romance market, or half a dozen other reasons. Maybe they think your book sucks. The thing is, you don't know! And in case it's your writing that's not up to speed, criticism is vital.
I'm now writing some fiction (romance! 2 finished, 1 almost). I've contacted about 30 agents. About 20 simply haven't replied. A handful said they don't want new clients. Two have asked to see my work. One said she would take me if I lived in the USA (Grrr!!!). So I know my stuff passes muster. Now I need to know what I can do to make it good enough for people to take me on even though I live in Malaysia.
You'd think everyone would be happy to critique romance, right? Unfortunately not. Some friends who are romance addicts just raved over the two novels I showed them. That's nice but it's not useful.
I'm pretty lucky in that my brother is forthright - and willing to read whatever I send over. He gave me some useful tips and said he thought it was marketable but he is not really my target audience. So I was really chuffed when my pal and ardent romance reader Ei-Leen volunteered and sent me a detailed email with comments for one of the books.
Bottom line: Ei-Leen thinks I need to nasty up my hero a little. Also, she wants more conflict between him and the heroine. It's do-able and I'm thinking of ways and means. However, I have a problem.
I've finally got a UK publisher looking at both finished books and the unfinished one so this is not a good time to start messing about with the products. Therefore, I'm going to wait until I hear back from her.
If the publisher is interested in the stories as is, that's cool. (I'm kidding her. It would be FANTASTIC!!!) If she agrees with Ei-Leen and wants one or more of the books tweaked, then I'm in a good spot as I'm already considering how.
If the publisher says no, then I make changes and try someone else.
Any way you look at it, I'm moving forward.