I know that the path I follow is one that hundreds – thousands – have walked before. It’s still a bit of a thrill, though, as I start out for myself. I have written forever, but revision is a whole new monster to me. It was daunting. Honestly, it was overwhelming and terrifying to me. I wrote and was happy to leave the works as they were.
Naive, wasn’t I?
Beta reading was, perhaps, the more terrifying part of revision to me. It probably is for most writers. The idea of taking this labor of love that you have spent weeks or months on (in my case, years) and putting it before other people can be daunting. A lot of people compare it to handing your baby over, but let’s be honest, I do that all the time. My babies go to school, they go to friends’ houses, they go to camps. They go with my blessing.
I haven’t let anyone read my writing in years.
Beta readers are so important to the process though. When you revise, you’re reading your work over and over again. Then, you’re reading it again. You know exactly what you mean, what you intend, and you can become blind to how it came out on paper.
Readers, good readers, will help you see past that.
I sent my novel out with complete terror, sure that they would come back and tell me how awful it was. Redundant. Cliche. Getting beta readers was the very best thing that could have happened to my confidence, because when the feedback came, none of my worst nightmares came true.
They liked it.
More importantly, they wanted to help me make it even better.
I’ve polished the first chapter of my (latest) completed novel so far with the feedback I got from my beta readers. They helped me see some of the things that had felt off without me knowing why. They helped me make parts stronger. They gave me some feedback that I dismissed, and I did so without any doubts.
Working with beta readers has made me feel more like an author than I ever have before. I am so grateful I took the leap, and so grateful to every one of them for their help on this journey. I have a lot more novel to polish, but I’m excited for it now – excited to hear back from my beta readers, and excited to tackle the challenge.
If you’re considering having other readers look at your work – do it. It’s terrifying, and exhilerating, and will only make you and your writing stronger.