Admitting Your Beta-Readers Were Right! #Writers #Writer

 

Sometimes we have to admit our beta readers are right. They know more about our draft than we do. Accepting this can be tricky.

  1. Denial. You are up to your eyeballs in writer denial. Beta-reader feedback on your draft novel suggests you still have a lot of work to do. Your writer denial levels are soaring! ‘Oh my goodness that is not true!’  you cry out from the laptop, after glancing through all the comments. Even though your beta-readers did their utmost to be constructive, giving you strengths and weaknesses, it’s the weaknesses you home in on. Loved ones listen to you shrieking from Writing Corner ‘good grief there is NOTHING wrong with my plot!’  and ‘I do NOT have characters that need developing further!’  You share the feedback with your loved one who, diplomatically, tries to get you to view the feedback as valuable and helpful. This immediately causes marital tension and you remind them about where their loyalties should lie. It feels like the entire world is against you. No one loves your beloved draft novel in the same way that you do.
  2. Tantrum. This is my favourite stage – all your literary toys are chucked out of the pram and it is writer tantrum time! By the way this stage can drag on for many months. Cue lots of emotion, door slamming, sarcasm and weeping sessions. During this turbulent time you will tell yourself that it is pointless getting feedback on drafts and you look for excuses to avoid your manuscript. Expect a couple of ‘I quit!’ moments during this stage but don’t expect a rush from loved ones to stop you. By this point they  will have had quite enough of your outbursts.
  3. Passing of time. The trick to accepting that your beta-readers were actually talking sense is to leave your manuscript alone for a period of time. I don’t mean days! I am talking weeks or even months. The secret to this is that….time changes your perspective and makes you lose all that hot tearful emotion. During this stage you will find yourself getting involved with other writing projects, avoiding your manuscript like the plague and secretly still of the opinion that your reviewer feedback was wrong.
  4. Realisation. After a significant amount of time has passed you will return to your manuscript and start to read. By the end of the first chapter you will hear a little voice whisper ‘those beta-readers might have had a point!’  and ‘OMG this character is actually lifeless!’  This is a tough stage for any writer. After spending  the last eight months slating and criticising the feedback process the literary penny finally drops! Your reviewers had a point! They knew what they were talking about. Their feedback was correct! Not just that it was actually really good. Cue your sharp intake of breath and a grip of the writing desk. It’s at this stage, whilst the blood is draining from your face in shock, that your mind starts to play the ‘what if?’ game. What if you had not wasted eight months of your literary life and sucked up the negative feedback? Just think where you might be now?
  5. Acceptance. After a little nap you return to your writing chair and ponder that valuable reviewer feedback, you received some months ago. You may even get it out of your writing folder and start to happily apply their suggested changes. It is at this point you smile. The smile is very significant, because up until now you will have looked like a bulldog chewing a wasp every time you thought about your reviewer feedback. This change in facial expression means that you have accepted that your reviewers were right and you were wrong – sigh! Its only taken you eight months to swallow this one! Quickly you add the names of your beta-readers to your Xmas card list and lovingly stroke their Twitter profile photos.

Take care out there writers – it’s not easy dealing with people who are right!

 

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/48220147@N07/8242703764″>Impeding Tone</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;

 

 

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I am a blonde writer of romantic comedy fiction.

43 thoughts on “Admitting Your Beta-Readers Were Right! #Writers #Writer

  1. Reblogged this on Helen Treharne – Author and commented:
    Once again @BlondeWriteMore hits the nail on the head. They key to a good book is taking time apart from it once you’ve finished that first draft, and probably once you’ve finished the final draft too! Having a good editor helps and I can’t stress how important this is. I released my first book unedited to test the water, relying only feedback from beta-readers and other author friends. It was okay but needed work. Since then it’s been edited, picked up a publisher and is in much better shape. It wasn’t painless! What was painless, was working with two different editors with my second “Sophie Morgan” book, once privately and then again when I was signed to a publisher – I suspect I wouldn’t have been picked by mine if I hadn’t had the second book properly edited to start with and listened to the feedback from them and other reliable, honest readers. It’s important to note, however, to pick the right readers/reviewers – target those who read that type of book and/or your target audience. Advice to new writers? Suck it up buttercup, not everyone is going to like the work you’ve been bleeding over a keyboard to create and that’s okay, but if everyone is picking up on the same issues then it’s time to consider whether they have a point.

    1. Great comment Helen! I am learning the value of time with writing. It’s not easy when you are desperate to publish your first book. I am restraining myself and this year I will be looking upon the feedback I get as valuable. Thx 🙂

  2. Yes – giving your work to others for beta reading is soooooo scary, especially the first time you do it. And then reading their comments can be painful, as it’s so personal. But the pain is worth it in the end – this sort of advice is invaluable! I would agree with Helen above that it’s important to choose readers who can appreciate the genre, or are part of your target audience, and also to ‘suck it up, Buttercup’ (love that). In the end, feedback is yours to do with what you will, but every comment is worth considering, as fresh eyes can pick up things that you no longer see.

  3. How horribly true. The subcategory to detail is actively seeking out your reviewer and telling them why they are wrong… Not good when you first ever reviewer happens to be your significant other…

  4. The time marinading is your manuscript’s best friend. The number of times I’ve announced “I quit”, or “I’m going to my PC now, to erase all my writing, then I will be free”… free for what? Cleaning the house? Boring coffee mornings? Yes, I could take up painting again, but then this would end up triggering the same cries of despair as writing does at times. If you’re a creative person, you just have to create, and learn from constructive criticism.

      1. Whoops, I used the bt one. Now I remember that you like the outlook one used. Will just resend the email now, to the right address. Thought you were away for half-term as I hadn’t heard from you.

  5. This is so good! Only a couple of weeks ago I re-read one of the first novels I published, and realised that it contained THE SAME WEAKNESSES THAT I NOW CRITICISE OTHER BOOKS FOR when I review them (not clumsy sentences like this one, I hasten to add!!).

    I used to beta read a bit but stopped it as I found that sometimes the writers weren’t willing to accept the amount of work that needed doing, as by the time it got to beta reading stage they considered it ‘ready to go’. So I’d spend ages writing notes and suggestions, many of which were more or less disregarded. I prefer now to review the finished item, instead!

    I only use two beta readers because there are only two people I completely trust to judge whether my books ‘work’ whether they are their sort of thing or not. With the last one, my 2nd reader seriously disliked the book at first. I almost didn’t publish it, I was that concerned. Then he got to the end and thought it was the best thing I’d written. However, I knew all about your first two points – I didn’t throw a tantrum because I’ve kind of grown out of them (so not a good look when you’re over 50!) but I knew the despair, for sure 🙂

    1. Thx Terry. I looked back at the novel I wrote last year and I can now see where I went wrong. I think you have raised an excellent point with the ‘I don’t gave the energy to do more work to it’ Lund of thought. I was like this last year plus I needed to get over myself. This year I am hoping I can get some good constructive criticism and see it as valuable and positive. I am fighting the urge to rush out and publish something which is hard. Happy Sunday to you 🙂

  6. This is definitely why reviewers have the great responsibility of being honest, constructive and remembering that there is an exhausted, hardworking author behind every book.

    I never thought I’d feel so protective of the authors whose work I review! I always assume they’ll read what I write (all authors are google addicts, I’ve found) so I have to read it through their eyes before clicking ‘publish’.

  7. Hahaha! So true. I thought I had alligator hide until my first bad review. But I got over it and laugh about them now. Well meaning ones I appreciate, but a couple…let’s just say, no.

  8. I’m not on the page of thinking anyone is right but very much on the page of respecting people for giving their opinion. I guess we all have to find our own ways of differentiating justified criticism of our work from perceived personal criticism…I find my biggest critic is myself!

  9. LMAO…I’m doing the first editing of my book now. I thought it was a masterpiece, and my editor cut it into tiny little ribbons. I went through the steps, just in days instead of months. Once I put in my hurt feelings report, I was able to sit back and take a constructive look.
    Damned if she wasn’t right. So now I’m fixing my molested MS and I have to admit, it looks a lot better. There were some points I’m not budging on, but a lot more I am. My advice is to listen to the outsiders. They are the ones who will be buying your books. Or not buying them.

      1. My pleasure. Following your blog now and reblogged the post. Wonderful stuff! Have a great day and hope you stay out from under the covers for a long time 🙂

  10. Wow, incredible blog layout! How long have you been blogging
    for? you made blogging lokk easy. The overall look of your web
    sikte is wonderful, let alone the content!

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