I think maybe I've drained my pool of potential readers if this book ever sees print -- if I'd sent hard copy to all those who've expressed interest, I'd have to sell my car to afford the repro costs. Thank goodness for the computer-generated electronic file.
In a couple-three weeks, once I have enough comments, I'll do a post indicating what worked and didn't work for most folks, and I'll use that input on the next draft.
My primary focus, as always, comes down to two criteria:
1) Did I tell the story I wanted to tell?
2) Did I tell it well?
My notion at the moment is that I'm close on the first -- I do need a bit more to get there. I'd like to think I'm close on the second, but that's why I'm asking for comments. Objectivity is wonderful, but seldom enjoyed by a writer editing his own stuff. In my case, regarding objectivity, read: Never. And I am suspicious of folks who claim they can look at what they wrote with an objective eye.
I listen for the "Aha, yes!" bell to ring when I hear a critique. If I hear it, that always gets addressed. If I don't, I look at numbers. If nine out of ten people hate something I wrote and I don't, maybe they are all out of step and I'm not, but that's not something I can dismiss out of hand. (I still might decide to do it my way anyhow, but there will be a closer examination to see can I justify it.)
I'm not sure when my deadline input is, but pretty much if you haven't gotten around to it in a month or six weeks, it'll miss the boat. It's my intent to have this ms to my agent by the end of February; there are other books I need to get to, and I'm not getting any younger.
So many books. So little time ...
Addendum: The number of folks who volunteered to read and comment on the ms rocketed up faster than I expected, and in the interests of not overwhelming my tired old eyes, I'm going to shut down the list before the focus group turns into a general audience. I just sent the last one out. Thanks, everybody. The balcony is now closed ...