In September I sent my work in progress out to beta readers. This was a new experience for me. The book was on the third or fourth draft before I felt confident to send it to other people to read. The group I sent it to consisted of 7 people, made up of 3 readers and 4 fellow writers. I hit the send button, freaked out for a minute and waited.
In the meantime, I started getting antsy not writing, so began a new project. The first response was received during this time. In a word, it was painful. I read the words on my screen, but they didn’t really process. All I saw were critical words that stabbed me. I closed the email and let out a sigh. That was it. My book sucked and I should just give up. In fact, I shouldn’t even write the new one.
A few hours later, I reopened my email and re-read the critique. It wasn’t bad. Reading between the lines, the beta reader actually liked the book. There were questions that she felt were not answered, and point of view changes that did not make sense. Overall, the feeling of the book was good. It just needed work.
Okay. I can deal with that. So I waited for the next reply. It came in from a reader, not a writer. She read the book quickly and overall loved it. Again, some questions. Some of these questions were the same that the previous beta reader noted. I quickly filed this away in my folder for beta replies.
That same day, a third response came in. This reader liked the story, but felt parts were not believable. Two of my characters also needed work to give more depth to them. It’s not that bad, I thought. The readers are liking the story. I am seeing a little bit of consistency with the areas that need work.
I have since received more feedback and am only waiting on feedback from two others.
I have to admit that there have been many times reading the feedback I simply wanted to say SCREW THIS. I spent a long time writing this book and how DARE someone tell me all these things that are wrong with the book. They have no idea what they are talking about and what gives them the right to do this? Who asked THEM?
Wait. I did. I asked them to. I sent them an email and said TELL ME WHAT IS WRONG.
Beta readers are critical. I have learned that. There are three things that EVERY SINGLE READER has mentioned. Without these readers, this book would have been published with crucial errors and my credibility would have been compromised. As I review my critiques, I have to remember that the overall story is great. People loved the book. And with their help, it can now be BETTER!
Thank you to those 7 people that have read my book. Thank you for making my book better. I can’t wait until you read the final version.
But it will be awhile. You gave me a lot of work 🙂