In my inbox: The feedback I have received over the last couple of years from publishers is the following: Your book needs some editing but not much so just send us between $6000.00 and $20,000.00 to do a full edit of your book and begin publishing, marketing and printing. What I am looking for is someone to actually read the book and let me know the truth — Is it worth publishing?
I’m asked some version of the “How do I get feedback?” question quite a lot, but this particular version seemed worth its own blog post, because the writer mentions that publishers are steering him/her toward ediorial/publishing services that cost many thousands of dollars. This is plain wrong. No reputable publisher would do this. (An editor at a reputable publishing house might say your work needs editing, but would not ask for money, nor would he/she recommend a specific service.) Self-publishing is another story, but then the question wouldn’t be “Is it worth publishing?” but “How do I self-publish this book?”
If you’re getting these kinds of responses from publishers, you need to spend a little more time educating yourself on the publication process and how real publishing works. One good place to start is your local library, which should have a shelf full of book on the publishing process. Online, try places such as the forums at Absolute Write.
Beyond that, consider joining a local writers’ group for the purpose of getting critiques of your work (in exchange, you’ll critique the work of your fellow writers.) Take a writing class at a local community college, art center or continuing education program.
But in the end, the way you find out whether something is worth publishing is by sending query letters to agents and to reputable publishers that accept unagented work, and seeing what happens. As simple (and as difficult) as that.