A to Z Blogging Challenge, Beta-reading, Dissonance, Writing Process

B is for Beta-Readers

I have written about beta-reading before, but about the giving aspect.  This time I want to talk about the other side of it. In my previous post “The Joys and Reassurance of Beta-Reading”, I talked about beta-reading for other writers. I really enjoy helping others get their work polished. Sometimes I feel bad when I point out that I don’t particularly know what is going on in the scene or I don’t like it. But I realize that if I am having reservations about the writing someone else may be as well. It’s much more helpful if I, as a friend, tell the writer issues I found, rather than some stranger leaving an unfavorable review that could damage sales later down the road. I always have to remind myself that my critiques are to help the story become it’s best.

As a writer, there isn’t much that is scarier than sending a polished rough draft out into the hands of a beta-reader. I’m sure pushing that publish button will be the top scariest thing I do as a writer, but I’m not quite there yet, so I’ll let you know when I do it. I have now sent out two different books into the hands of relative strangers and people I know in person to have them critic it. It’s an unnerving process. The worst for me is handing my draft to a person I know (in person and online) relatively well. After all, I interact frequently with these people. What if they hate my writing? I know that scenario is just my own crazy fears getting the best of me, but it is a possibility. Though, I know the consequences of them hating my work are negligible at best.

Right now, I have Dissonance out with a second set of beta readers and I have to remind myself any unfavorable review is only to help me grow as a writer and make my book as strong as it can be. I find beta-readers to be invaluable. The first round of beta-readers found several mistakes that I didn’t even notice. I completely forgot to introduce a character, the plot line didn’t match up 100%, and other odd word choices and misspellings. So far all of my beta readers have been helpful, even if I didn’t agree with their suggestions they have helped me realize that I am not getting the point I was intending across and a re-draft was of the scene was still in order.

The biggest things I have learned in putting my work in the hands of beta readers are:

  1. Suggestions aren’t personal. They have nothing to do with you as a person or writer, the beta readers are attempting to help you get your book/story in it’s top form before being released to the public arena.
  2. They are only suggestions. If you don’t agree with your beta reader, then you don’t have to take the suggestion. The only thing to question is the motivation on why you don’t agree with the suggestion, and
  3. It’s helpful to have variety of people read your book. You might want to focus on your target audience, but you might even want to venture to find someone who might not read a lot of your genre. It’s interesting to read their take on your work.

But most of all have fun with writing. I write because I enjoy it. I have found sometimes the best ideas and scenes come from someone else’s suggestion (even if it has nothing to do with the suggestion).

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15 thoughts on “B is for Beta-Readers”

  1. Great post! and good points too. I know some people find it hard to distance themselves from their work a little, but beta readers all have opinions and they don’t necessarily mean you HAVE to listen.

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    1. I agree 100%! It took me a little while to wrap my head around that concept, but after writing and getting some feedback along the journey it’s something I have become a lot better at. (Well as long as it’s constructive) I no longer take criticism personally.

      I also don’t always listen to my reader’s feedback, especially while writing a series that is roughly planned out. Sometimes there are little seeds of information sowed in that won’t come to fruition until a later book.

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  2. Yup, I find it hardest with friends as well, but after the first time it got a LOT easier to distance myself from the critiques.

    That’s one good thing about having many beta readers – you can see the things lots of people pick up, and know for sure you need to work on those areas, and that most of the rest is more personal. I’ve gotten pretty good at picking the feedback I want to incorporate.

    You brought up a good point in considering the motivations behind accepting or dismissing feedback.

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  3. I totally can relate. I’m having my book read by someone right now, and even though I don’t agree with 100% of the suggestions, it’s good to have someone who catches weird mistakes. And as you said, make you aware that you didn’t quite get your point across. Scary as hell, but oh so useful. Than you for a great post!

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    1. I am waiting for mine to come back again. One gal just told me yesterday she was almost done and now I’m so nervous to see the feedback. I don’t know why it seems so scary, worst case scenario they don’t like the story. It’s not like it puts me in harms way 🙂

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      1. It scares the living daylight out of me. Just yesterday I received an email titled, ‘Questions about chapter seven.’ I almost threw my iPhone away. It IS scary, but -yes- worst case scenario is that they hate it, and that’s it. Not so bad, in the big scheme of things.

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  4. Yes, I have a minor freak-out every time I send a MS to a reader. But, I know it will make the story better, so after giving myself a moment to fret, I try to put it away and work on something else while I wait.

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    1. Right now this A to Z Challenge is making for a perfect distraction while I wait on Dissonance to come back. Though I really should be reworking the sequel, but I am still brainstorming on the opening chapters.

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    1. That is very true. I noticed I completely forgot to introduce a character. When I wrote the scene I have just completed writing a whole chapter on the character in a later book. I completely overlooked the reader had no idea who I was talking about!

      I have been exceptionally lucky on the quality of my beta-readers. I am so grateful for them.

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  5. This A to Z Challenge is introducing me to a lot of writers out there including you. I am a casual blogger and even then it’s hard, but useful, when someone comments on a post and I realize that I haven’t gotten my point across.

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  6. I have just started beta reading. Oh my gosh you writers rock. I love the interaction. I include all the stuff I love first and suggestions second. You writers are too brave for me to even express my awe! I have been asked by an author to read another book so I will be up to four😳😉. You are all so creative, I wish I had time for more!

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    1. That’s fantastic! We writers love our beta-readers. They lend so much value to our writing. I’ll speak on behalf of all writers (with or without their permission), but we appreciate everything you do for us. Thank you for helping us realize our dreams 🙂

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