I'm new to the forum and looking to establish myself a bit, and thought I might add one of my own experiences here. I've been working on my current project for about 4 years now, and earlier this year sent out what I imagined could be the definitive draft (it's seen some serious edits since, but no full rewrites). I had a fair few beta readers, utter strangers all of them, which was simultaneously exhilarating and terrifying. I was and am still hoping to pursue writing as a semi-career, and I'd spent so long on Equo that I really couldn't say anymore if it was any good. Couldn't see the forest for the trees and all that.

Then a beta reader got back to me after three days (one day per year I'd spent writing it) and told me he loved it, that he couldn't wait for the sequel (hah!) and that he hadn't been able to put it down. I don't know if I can remember ever being so happy. I still think back on that now, when I face rejection. I've had more helpful critiques that allowed me to improve the novel, but none have made me feel like that.