Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Long Road: Beta-Readers

Here’s the low down, peeps. (Yes, I just laughed at how ridiculous that sounds. It is yet another reason I love blogging. It’s good practice for making yourself vulnerable, but I digress). 

I’ve recently finished my first draft of revisions for my urban fantasy YA novel called THE LOY. This book is the book. And no, I don’t think it’s going to be published right away once I start querying. It might not even be received well by the agents I query in all honesty, but this book is my book. This the first manuscript I’ve loved and hated enough to get through revisions. This is the first novel I am going to query. This is the first book I’m going to feel the sting of rejection from. 

This is also the first novel I’ve let my friends read. (Technically they’re reading it right now.) I have my three closest friends reading my novel. This is what’s known as beta-readers. They love me enough to suffer through this first draft that isn’t completely perfect and they’re willing to give me comments and critique.

This is a huge step for me. Before this novel, the only people I let read my book was my sister (who is, undoubtedly, my alpha-reader—a person who looks at a writer’s drafts even before revision) and my brother. I stuck to my siblings because they’re safe. 

I know a lot of people say don’t have your friends or family read your novel, but I disagree. I need a buffer between writing and sending it off to a harsh critic who will rip it to shreds. Don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t give my novel to any random friend or family member. There’s no reason for me to give my novel to my parents who don’t really enjoy reading unless it’s in Korean—their first language. And I definitely wouldn’t give my novel to one of my friends in my biochemistry class because he doesn’t like reading and he doesn’t even know what YA stands for. There are certain people you shouldn’t give your novel to.

But I chose these three friends to read my novel for various reasons. One is a screenwriter and loves films to the point where she talks about them for hours. My other friend is a rather critical reader and won’t put up with a book if it’s boring or annoying. Then my last friend reads the most YA in my group of friends and has the same taste as I do; she’s also amazing at giving feedback and critique without destroying my hopes and dreams. 

I need to have my friends as my beta-readers. I know they’re going to provide me with awesome comments and ways I can improve my novel. They understand how serious I am about publishing. They also know that I’m ready for critique and open for all suggestions, but my skin isn’t quite thick enough to handle the blunt comments that others may give. 

 Basically, my friends as beta-readers is like jumping down a flight of stairs into a nest of pillows. It’s going to hurt, but at least there’s some cushion.

Did you guys have a hard time letting people read your work? What’s your opinion about friends reading your work? Comment below! 

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