Beta Readers Love Me; They Love Me Not: Publishing Fears

By Moira Murphy, eMoon author

I had no trouble deciding that I wanted to publish with Electric Moon Publishing, LLC., what I did have trouble with was when Laree told me it might be a good idea to find some beta readers. For those of you who aren’t familiar with that terminology, a beta reader is someone who reads an authors’ manuscript before they move along with publishing. The idea is to get the opinions and thoughts of a third party reader before the final steps of publishing. While this idea may not seem utterly terrifying to those who have yet to publish, let me tell you, as an author, it is.

Yes, I knew people would be reading my book, and I knew that some of them may not enjoy it as much as I hoped they would. Heck! Maybe, no one would like it! But, the idea of having to hear their comments, their dislikes, and their critiques on each of my pages was close to unbearable.  I told Laree, ‘no!’ with a scoff.   At least if they didn’t like it after publishing I wouldn’t know about it; I could avoid commentary on social media and I’d be perfectly content without reading the Amazon Reviews. But to see that dislike head on; that I could not handle.

But, Laree persisted. She promised me that it would be beneficial to my writing process; that it would change my book for the better. She promised that it would give me a point of view that I couldn’t see in my own writing. I caved. I hired five beta readers and lived in pure agony for a week while I awaited their critiques.  I waited by the computer, staring at my inbox, praying that one of them would get done early. And at the same time I prayed that they wouldn’t finish at all; could I handle the criticisms?

The truth is, Laree was right. I couldn’t believe it, and I’m reluctant to admit it, but everything she promised happened. While, I didn’t agree with all of the beta readers, for the most part it showed me aspects, storylines, and character developments that I had missed. It is so difficult to completely delve into every aspect of a piece of writing you’ve been working on for over a year. Your eyes begin to skim the pages, and you become numb to what it may be missing--because the story is alive in your head. The characters are real people in your mind; with personalities and quirks. The plot has depth and is woven perfectly together in your mind, the question is: did those characters and that plot translate to your pages? Because, as creative people, our imaginations tend to be extravagant and magical. However, with this amazing gift, it becomes horribly difficult to show other people what we see in our minds’ eye. It is our curse. And my beta readers helped me to see what I had difficulty translating to the page.

So, to Laree; thank you for gently shoving me out of my comfort zone. And to authors at any stage in writing; I whole-heartedly encourage you find a few beta readers. It is so worth it to get another pair of eyes on to your work.

Look for Electric Moon’s next blog post by Moira Murphy in her series "Beta Readers Love Me; They Love Me Not" on 12/30/2016: Bribing…err…Finding Beta Readers.