Beta Readers, shudder



I have lost my way a little with my manuscript. The first draft and initial rounds of editing went surprisingly well but then life hit me with a sledgehammer and after weeks of grieving I made a conscious decision to try to move forward with at least one area in my life. Writing seemed the obvious starting point. A world of my creation to immerse myself in, what could be better than that?

I dusted off my laptop, creaked open the lid and waited an inordinately long time for it to fire up. I blinked at the brightness of the screen as my words, so lovingly crafted, loaded. They made no sense to me. I felt detached from them. Had I written this? Was it any good? What was the next stage?

When I first heard the term Beta Readers, many months ago, I shuddered. Who would want to send out their manuscript into the world? Crazy people. What if people slatted it? What if people pretended to love it but secretly laughed. No, Beta Readers were absolutely, definitely, not for me.

A gallon of coffee later and my eyes misted over. I had no idea where to start. I needed help.

I tentatively put a message on social media. Does anyone want to read my manuscript, and, to my astonishment, they did.

I chose four people who I know will give honest feedback, and my husband who will tell me it’s wonderful regardless (hey, we all need a little praise), composed an email, attached my file and pressed send. Heat rose through my body and I could feel adrenaline flooding my veins. Heart pumping, skin pricking with sweat I scrambled around my email searching fruitlessly for a retract button (why oh why has someone not invented one)?

So now I sit, and I wait, and I worry.

14 thoughts on “Beta Readers, shudder

  1. It’s terrifying to send one’s story for beta reading. Even though you’ve had a round of editing it’s like sending your kid into the world with everything that comes with.
    I’m doing this for a fellow NaNo participant and I find it’s a duty to give honest feedback. Because I would want my beta readers to do the same. So I’ve spent almost 2 months on a 20 chapter story. Least I can do. I want this person to succeed as I’m sure the people you chose for beta reading do.
    Don’t bite your nails πŸ˜‰ everything will be fine.

  2. Yeah, it’s definitely scary… But if it helps, I know for a FACT that there are some very significant developments in my novels that never would have happened if it hadn’t been for conversations with betas. You never know what new avenues they’re going to open up for you.
    I think you deserve tea and a cookie πŸ™‚

  3. Everything I want in life is always moved forward when I step back, let it go and surrender my urgency to receive it. Surrender, nothing will stop it coming towards you if it’s meant to be! Good luck πŸ™‚ xx

  4. It can be nerve wracking when you send your story to beta readers, and I’ve learned from my own experience that if you trust in your beta readers you’ll see places where you can turn your story from good to amazing. if you want to get your mind off of what your beta readers might be thinking and doing, start another story. It can be something short and simple or the next book you want to write. Not only does it serve as a distraction as you await feedback, but it keeps you writing and honing your craft.

      • Wish I’d read your article before you GAVE away your manuscript! Letting family members read your script? Usually not. For me, I trust my writing group’s suggestions. We twelve writers get together every Monday night to read each other’s work and give suggestions. Because of the diverse genres of the critique group, the comments are equally diverse. The best step I ever took was joining this group; I’ve learned heaps; I don’t feel alone with my writing any more; I’ve made friends with people interested in writing like me. Ask your local library if such a group exists in your area.

  5. Awwww, don’t worry about it too much! I actually met one of my writer friends last year by volunteering to be a beta-reader, and she still tells me know how grateful she is for my feedback. *blushes*

    I agree, it’s frightening to send your story off for others to read and respond with feedback. You can’t help but anticipate rejection and other negative emotions. But trust me when I say that most beta-readers genuinely want to help writers. They want to help you improve your story, and they’ll usually frame their responses in compassionately constructive ways. I also agree with Michael’s advice to work on something new while you’re waiting for responses, just to help you take your mind off the beta-readers.

    Personally, I think you did the right thing by asking for help. I know I’m going to need beta-readers for my novel once it’s ready for that stage. Plus, who knows what other good could come out of this? πŸ™‚

Thanks so much for reading!

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