By Moira Murphy, Emoon Author
My Dad had a saying growing up, "Opinions are like butts; everyone has one, but that doesn't mean I want to hear it." Wow, Dad, thanks for that philosophy to carry with me. Sadly, it has stuck around into my adult life.
However (number one), it didn't leave me with the traumatizing fear of flatulence that you'd think it would leave me with. I actually use it when it comes to beta readers. Yes, every one of my beta readers is entitled to their thoughts—I mean—I did ask them for it. But that doesn't mean I have to change my work based upon every single personal feeling.
There is always the creative license that writers have, it is your book, and ultimately your freedom to choose what ends up in the final work. If you choose to publish indie, as I am, it is you that has to feel content with the printed novel, so if you don't see eye to eye with all of your beta readers—that's okay. They aren't the ones who will have to look back at their novel in twenty years and wonder "what if I had left the book the way I wanted, would it have sold more copies? Would it have gotten better reviews?" That's you that has to deal with those crushing thoughts.
So, please be sure you agree with all the changes that are happening to your book.
However (number two), you did hire these people. And if you read my article about how important it is to choose beta readers wisely, they do know what they are taking about. The main thing I consider when reviewing beta readers’ comments and critiques is whether there was a common theme among them. Did they all say the same thing about the same part in the book? If so, then it is something you should STRONGLY consider altering.
I'm on my second round of beta readers now (which we will talk about next week), and I already have two of the beta readers’ comments back, and between the two of them there was only one commonality. So, now I need to take it upon myself to decide whether that part of the book they mentioned is something I need to change.
It's a hard thing to decide whether a few readers or your creative license is the route to take. My advice—which I should take right now—is to wait to hear back from all the beta readers before making a decision.
*GULP* I'll try, if you try.