January 11, 2016

Beta Unto Others As You Would Have Them Beta Unto You...and other reasons to be brave

be the kind of beta reader to other's you'd want them to be to you

This is a strange and wonderful stage of the process I find myself in. Not only have I pulled together a complete manuscript, but now perfect strangers are reading it. Well, not strangers exactly, but not people who have an intimate connection to me that could influence their truth sensors in such a way to preserve my feelings.

It's great to have people close to you read your work. It can affirm relationships and strengthen bonds and create a bridge between your worlds that perhaps didn't exist before. 

But yeah...there's always this lingering wonderment: do they like it because they like it or do they like it because they like me?

And so, at this very moment, through the miracle of the interwebs, strangers are holding my pages, slicing and dicing them in the name of progress without the hindering need to protect me.

Because who am I to them?

I am no one. 

I am that inconsequential girl on Instagram or Twitter with which they have a rather inconsequential relationship. My feelings are black and white words or perfectly filtered photographs on a screen to which they owe nothing but honest feedback.


How terrifying/exhilarating.

And, as much as it scares me, it's exactly what I want. Because at the end of it all I hope to produce a product that represents me at my very best and that can't happen without the unfiltered feedback of people who don't love me.

Which is also why I've taken on a beta-reading project for someone else outside my own physical world. 

Because every time I make that red pen mark - not to tear them down, but with the intention to build their project up to something better - I think about them doing the very same to me and realize I'm lessening the pain of criticism by criticizing

Because I know my own intent and through that, I'm able to trust theirs.


On being brave.

There is no way someone can create a piece of art that every single person will fall in love with. Unless you can understand and accept this as a reality there's no reason to step out in bravery. 

I am so good at stopping projects. I dive in. I'm excited. I work and work. And then I stop. Because the next step is the hardest and I don't have the emotional maturity to face it.

Until I do. 

And then I realize, I might be the bravest person I know.

{That sounds awfully narcissistic BUT bravery is relative and I'm just talking about writing here - not running into a burning building.}

Writing is simple if it's something that makes you happy. It's also an exercise that makes you raw and vulnerable and it's easy to decide to keep it to yourself and not risk sharing it with a world who might poop all over it.


What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

And so I forge ahead, eagerly biting my nails and pacing a racing stripe in the floorboards as I anticipate that ding in my inbox as readers complete their task and send me their feedback.

It's not easy but it is necessary.

Bravery is the only way to find success among bookshelves of literary garbage. I believe this with my whole heart and I'm going to keep on being brave until I hold that final copy in my hands and I cry a little bit and then invite all of you to a smashing good book launch party!


I'm still looking for more beta-readers! {Look at me, being brave again!} And yes, you're still invited even if you love me in real life. So, if you have a little time to read through a story about a boy and his mother, let me know and I'll hook you up! {comment below, email me or use the contact form} I'd really love a few more women to read it. Surprisingly my readers have been mostly male so I'd like to even out the playing field a little bit.

Learn lots more about what I want from my beta's here.
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  1. You are brave! And I hope your stranger readers give you super helpful feedback. And did you intend for me to sing "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger"? because I did, and now it's stuck, and it won't get out.

    1. Ha! My intentions exactly! And you're welcome!

  2. Beta-reading can be scary enough in its own right.

  3. Singing along with Heidi. You should be ashamed. I'm like, "dang it!" All day, it'll be in my head. I'd love to be a beta reader, but let's be realistic. I have no time! So, you go through the process, then I want to be the first one to PURCHASE the final product! Deal?


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