When you’re baking a cake, you don’t show people your cake before its finished. You show them the finished product. There’s a reason for this.

You wouldn’t do this:

Step 1: Add butter to bowl. Show to those that are likely to eat cake.

Step 2: Cream butter and sugar. Show contents to those who are likely to eat cake.

Step 3: Add flour. Show contents again, possibly reaching more people if word got out how good your unfinished cake looks.

Step 4: Add eggs. Show cake to audience again. Continue to show your readers the contents of your bowl each time you’ve added another ingredient.

Tedious, isn’t it? It also leaves no margin for error. If you get some eggshell in your cake, your audience will notice, and they may well remember even if you’ve fished all the eggshell out. They may go looking for more eggshells and be less interested in eating your cake. It may put them off all together.

Think of the pieces of eggshell as issues with your novel. You wouldn’t want to show a novel like that to your readers, would you?

Then why are you showing them the first draft?

Your first draft should be for you, and you alone.

Showing people your first draft is like showing them your cake before it’s gone into the oven. It’s not nearly as impressive, is it?

By all means keep your target audience in mind, but don’t show it to them until it’s ready, and you’ve worked it as much as you possibly can.

No matter how loyal they are, or how much they beg.

Doing so is akin to taking your cake out of the oven too soon: it will sink, and your audience won’t enjoy the finished product as much (because it’s not technically finished). They may lose a little of their love for your work, because it’s not up to the standard that they’re used to.

So why risk it?

If your readers are loyal, they’re going to be willing to wait for the next instalment. And if they’re that loyal, you wouldn’t want to give them something half-baked, would you?

If you’ve got a finished chapter—and I mean finished, not subject to change—by all means share it with them to whet their appetite.

But if you know that the story is likely to change dramatically and it’s not your best piece of writing, why risk damaging readers’ opinions of you?

It’s important to keep in contact with your readers and keep them informed of your progress, but you shouldn’t be showing them anything until the book is finished.

They’ll thank you in the long run.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m off to eat some cake.