Beta Readers, shudder

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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.