My friend in California and I were talking [on the phone] the other day about how it seems that when [some] friends read our works, they feel they should critique them. We decided they meant well, but it is published now, so there is no "fixing" anything at this point. Besides, I'm not sure anything needs fixed. The funny thing too is these are non-writer people.
There are writing groups for that sort of thing - before it is published. I suppose book clubs might take it in a different direction, more about what the story meant to them. Classrooms of people might analyze the style and the mechanics of the work. Reviewers give an overview, some times telling key points that become spoilers.
I certainly think because I wrote a trilogy it is easy to see what is my style and what growth occurred as a writer in other areas over time. But then, one is a bit locked into a form when the books are a set, a trilogy.
Will my future books be different, of course. The characters are much different so they will have different voices. There will not be the extensive interior dialogue that Kathryn had. Also, I won't do diary entries again. Nothing wrong with doing them, just each book should be its own work.
We all have our own ideas of what makes a good book good. Publishers try to figure out that combination of factors for target audiences that makes a book into a commercial property. Plus they look at what the author is like and hope the agent can baby set the debut writers as well as the divas - male and female.
As a boutique publisher I probably look at the second factor even more than larger publishers do. I'm at about a 75% rejection rate for queried works. I doubt there has ever been an ms come through the door at any publisher that is totally ready to go. How the author reacts to rewrite requests has a lot to do with whether I'll offer a contract.
I let one ms go that I liked and thought had a strong audience base. The writing was weak and the author unwilling to work at improving it. "Mom" telling the writer that it is perfect isn't the same as someone in the publishing business reading the ms.
Another surprise to beginning writers is that most of the time the title is changed, so assume your title is a working title. Don't fall in love with it. The publisher will probably change it. However do title your works. I think writers need titles to set the tone of the book for them; it needs a name so it can be written. Not to mention it has to be called something in the query letter.
Do you get unexpected critiques of your works?