In keeping with this week’s theme of “What I Did On My Vacation” we find today’s post. I finally got a beta reader over the holidays. Let me first state I had never actually had a beta reader. Yeah, some of my friends had read the books (and my husband), but I didn’t have someone I actually could say “This is my beta reader. This is who I turn to when I need someone to critique my work.”
I must admit I was excited yet nervous to send my work to some faceless person I had never met. Would they hate the story? Think my writing was terrible? Tell me they had changed their mind and never wanted to see anything I had written again? I think that’s what took me so long to finally settle on a beta reader.
It was one of those “Interesting” moments. I got a message on my old “Wanted: Beta Reader” page on the blog. This gal had found me from one of my comments on another blog. My beta reader (which will be called BR for the blog unless I get permission to name her), left a comment that she wasn’t a writer but wouldn’t mind reading my work.
I sent off an email to BR about the whole beta thing. She agreed to read my stories even when I went “Are you sure? I’m not a ‘real writer’ yet.” (Excitement was obviously building, along with fear and nerves.) I sent off CHRISTMAS WISH, and waited.
When I got back BR’s email something really weird happened. I went “Really? I did not see that issue. Hum, this part here is a problem. Now that you point it out I see where this needs to be tweaked. I’m just gonna rewrite a few bits, fill in a couple of holes, fix the typos and send you the next draft. But, you liked the plot? Okay, obviously I am doing okay.” Shockingly, I was even fine getting rid of characters.
Now, I have to admit I expected to see “And this is the last time I will be a beta reader for you” somewhere in the email. BR didn’t, so I sent off another version of CHRISTMAS WISH. I still expected “Yeah, I’ve decided that this isn’t for me.” Nope, BR didn’t.
This is where I realized two things. 1) I had a beta reader! And 2) I had a beta reader. Yep, they look like the same sentence. They aren’t. I was all excited. Real authors have beta readers. I want to be a real author. Most of the “beta” dedications I’ve read in books are “Thanks to So-and-So who isn’t a writer, but has read every single thing I’ve written.” Every single real author seems to have someone who reads their works in the early stage. I had BR. I was on the way to becoming a real author.
And I had BR. BR read my stuff before anyone else. That’s when it occurred to me that while SWEET SIXTEEN had been revised I wasn’t sure I was ready for someone else to read SWEET SIXTEEN. (Issue if I am trying to get an agent to rep the manuscript.) All of a sudden I went back to read the manuscript. There were some major problems! This totally freaked me out. “I can’t send this horribleness to BR! BR will never like my writing again if she sees this garbage! Heck, I wouldn’t like my writing with this!”
I never thought having a beta reader would be so stressful. It sounds strange, but suddenly I have one person I care what they think of my writing. It’s not like I edited going “Will BR like this?” It was more like “Do I really want anyone to read this?” I thought I was doing that before. Obviously, I wasn’t. So, thanks, BR for making me in to a better writer.