Although I thoroughly enjoyed your novel, I’m going to begin by setting you straight about its weaknesses, because so much of what I have to say is in the context of today’s ruthless and often dismal marketplace for debut fiction. 

That marketplace does exist. Publishers have to bring out first novels or they’ll never have new writers to make money for them down the line, and most publishing editors I know are actually on the lookout for the new novelist who’s going to break out. 

By which they mean: fiction that’s strongly plotted, that has a story they’re confident readers will be caught up in, a story that won’t let them go, a story that will resonate with its readers after (to their sorrow) they’ve reached the final page. This means the novel has a strong, fresh, original plot–yet what actually creates that level of reader involvement is characters that are irresistible. Not just appealing, not just captivating, but so captivating that the reader cares intensely about at least one and hopefully all of the main characters and has a serious stake in what happens to them. 

And as if that weren’t enough, the editors want the novel to be superbly (preferably brilliantly) written, in prose with a distinctive narrative voice that holds up all the way through. When they think they’ve found such a novel, it gets one of the pitifully few spaces for first fiction on their list.