I have since waited patiently, and slightly nervously for their critique to return. If it came back quickly would that mean good news? Or would it mean that they just took one look at it and thought that the entire reading of it would somehow irreparably burn their retinas? But then it took a few weeks, so did that mean that they were being so conscientious that it took time to write down every annoying, irritating little trait?
Well, the wait is over, and I received my first feedback yesterday, and I was delighted by it. Not because they told me that I was probably a literary genius, or that it was just perfect as it was and that they could think of nothing else that would improve it. No, I was delighted because it told me of all the things that made it crap.
What would be the point of sending your manuscript, your precious baby, the thing that you’ve nurtured and protected over the last few months, out in to the wild just for it to be ripped to shreds on it’s first flight? Surely it makes more sense to send it to a nursery slope first, where it can learn how to defend itself and fly adequately before you let the big boys play with it.
This is the task that you want Beta-Readers to perform for you. I was delighted because all of the feedback was completely right. I couldn’t argue with any of it, and neither should I have. My role is to listen to this feedback and make decisions accordingly. It was such quality feedback that I know exactly what it means, and more importantly exactly what I can do to improve it.
I am ever so grateful for my friend for being so honest, which is a hard thing to do with someone you know, but she understood the process enough to know that this is what I really needed. I’m also grateful for the fact that she didn’t just say it was crap, which has given me more confidence than I thought it would.
So, to answer my own question, should I have beatings from my Beta-Readers, the answer isn’t just beatings for the sake of beatings, but if the manuscript deserves it then I need to be able to take it. Better that some people you know give you some constructive pointers, than a whole internet of scary strangers just abuse you.
Do you use Beta-Readers? and do you find them useful?