Let’s all take a moment to feel grateful for beta-readers. They are special people who kindly agree to read our draft books and give us much needed reader feedback. Their feedback emails are so valuable…once we have recovered from their initial thoughts about our beloved stories.
I have had some wonderful beta-readers and without their feedback on my novel Instructions For Falling In Love Again, my book wouldn’t have done so well.
Once you press send on your email to your beta-readers you can expect a few sleepless nights, several solitary walks in the rain and a period of what can only be described as nervous reflection.
Here are some things you consider during this troubling time:
- Changing your name and assuming a new identity. “Lucy who?”
- Having a sudden bout of much needed Writer Amnesia. “I can’t recall anything about writing a romance novel!”
- Making a knee jerk genre change. “The moment I pressed send on my email to my beta-reader was when I decided to make the natural leap from writing romance to serious political thriller…”
- The amount of time you have spent writing or editing that damn story. This will be where your brain kindly creates an inner film reel of your writing journey with this particular story; the day you got the idea whilst buying veg in your local supermarket, the ear to ear smile on your face as you pushed your trolley into the frozen food aisle, the joyful day you got to ten thousand words, the tears spilt over your keyboard as twenty five thousand words broke you, the excitement of finishing your first draft, the painful second draft which still gives you nightmares and the amazing third draft where it all came together.
- The nagging doubts you had at the back of your mind about those dodgy chapters from twenty-three to twenty-eight and the dull minor character which you have happily ignored whilst writing or editing.
- Will those crafty, eagle-eyed beta-readers pick up on these issues which lurk at the back of your mind?
- The painful lessons you learnt from the last draft novel you sent to beta-readers. You will never forget how your beta-reader’s honesty made you spend the afternoon sat behind the garden shed, with a glass of wine, reflecting on your entire writing career.
- How the hell you managed to even complete the last draft with your daily family dramas, your teenager’s rocky love life, your limping dog, the hole in the kitchen ceiling and the shocking amount the mechanic thinks it is going to cost to repair your old car. Maybe your beta-reader needs to know all the things you were experiencing whilst writing your story?
- Whether or not you should email your beta-readers and talk them through the final steamy scene, which is now making you cringe every time you think about it.
- Perhaps it might help your cause if they knew that steamy scene was NOT based on your own love life?
- Your husband’s verdict on the steamy scene when you made the mistake of telling him about it. His word, ‘unrealistic’ echoes inside your head. Maybe you should email your beta-reader and tell her NOT to read that steamy scene.
- Maybe your draft novel needed more stewing time?
- Maybe it wasn’t ready to fly the nest?
- Writing something new.
- Visualising two scenarios; you reading their email and crying with joy as they loved it. You reading their email and crying into your soft egg with toast soldiers. They didn’t connect with your story.
- Whether you should contact your local church group and ask them to pray for you and your draft?
This is something we all go through and it can be really nerve wracking. I have had varied responses from beta-readers on my stories over the years. From the joyous, ‘LOVE IT!’ to the bowel clenching, ‘WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO THE DRAFT I LIKED???’
I am about to search for beta-readers for the first book of my new series – The Roxy Collins Diaries Series, so wish me luck. ❤️
My advice to all writing problems is just keep writing x