Writing | Books | Reading

When You Have No Beta Readers

So there I was. I finished the second draft of my novel and emotions were riding high. It was time to let more eyes see what I’d created. After much self-reflection and preparation to allow my baby to get torn to shreds, I had but one problem: Who could I get to read this for me?

I had done my research on the writing process and the general consensus was to have around 3 people who’s opinion you trusted to give you honest feedback about what worked and what didn’t. The problem for me was that I only had one – my father. He was a shoo-in because he doesn’t sugar-coat anything. He loves a range of TV genres – shows like Homeland and Downton Abbey – yet groans at anything cliche or overdone. Aside from him, it was hard to imagine anyone else.

I asked a co-worker and attended a local writer’s group, yet the connections just didn’t seem to stick. I began to feel anxious and annoyed that I couldn’t get a range of people’s opinions about my book. So, instead I decided to just go with what I had and it worked out just fine. My father gave me a good critique, I made some changes, and hired an editor to give me a professional’s view. Their input has helped me immensely. I’m now going through my novel, character by character, arc by arc, and making the changes necessary to give my work a chance at being the bestseller I know it can be.

If you’re like me, and just starting the process of making your way in the writing industry, you’ve likely done a lot of Googling and reading books about writing to make sure you’re on the same page – pun intended. Sometimes we get bogged down in having every aspect of our writing journey be perfect, when really all we should be worrying about is our writing. If all you have is one beta reader, don’t do what I did and worry yourself. Go with it. And if they’re not a big-time reader, that’s fine. You just need some insight as to how your story affects your reader. If they happen to be a professional editor, then you’re in luck, but if not, hire one. Make your writing the best it can be so you can have the best impact once it’s released.

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