In November, I wrote a blog post sending out a call for beta readers for two of my novels: THE RESISTANCE, an adult science fiction that’s light on the sci and heavy on the gravestones; and ARTEMIS SMITH AND THE VIRTUOUS MARRIAGE QUEST, my favorite story that I’ve ever written about a staring artist who overusing tropes in his writing and has to conquer them by becoming characters in stories and living through the tropes that plague him. Ever since I wrote that blog post and ten brave, sweet, fantastic souls signed up to help me, I have been anxiously awaiting their feedback. According to my emails, five people have sent me responses so far.
And I haven’t look at a single comment.
Don’t get me wrong: I really want to look at this feedback, see what is working in my stories and see how I can improve. I really want to edit based off of this feedback and start really working on getting these stories to the query ready stage. Yet I also want to wait for all of the feedback to come in (respectively, for each book) before I do any of this.
Seems odd, I know, to wait for all of the feedback to be collected before diving in. Personally, I feel like it is a bit rude towards my beta readers, to ask them to critique my work and try to get it into me by a certain date, only to “ignore” them once they send stuff my way. And, there is the potential problem that, if I have any follow up questions, the time lapsed between a beta sending me their feedback and me actually reading that feedback becomes too long and they can’t remember enough of my story to answer my questions.
Yet despite all of that, this is how I need to use beta feedback.
You see, the quirk I discovered during a previous beta experience is that once I read that feedback, I push forward, guns blazing. I will have no self-control and go straight into editing mode. How could I not, when I have all these new ideas and decisions to make, based off new, outside feedback? This time around, I have multiple beta readers for each story. I did that purposefully, so I could get a wide range of opinions. I’m waiting to get all of them collectively so I can compare those opinions and be best prepared on how I want to edit. I don’t want to decide to make changes based on one opinion if the other four opinions actually suggest the opposite. Plus, with my inability to stop thinking about feedback once I get it and my insane desire to edit immediately after receiving it–even waiting just a few days to process like I need to is hard–it’s important for me, I realized, to wait until everything comes in before I actually look at it. But once all the feedback is in, I am so stoked to order a large bowl of potato soup at Panera, sit at a six person booth and cover the entire tabletop surface with printed critiques, notebook paper, sticky notes and my laptop, and spend hours there taking everything in and making a game plan for the stories so close to my heart.
The reason I wrote this post, mainly, is to apologize to my beta readers. I realize this is possibly a very rude way to receive your feedback and could be taken, by those of you who got me feedback so quickly, as that I’m ungrateful or not truly invested in the work you did for me. I want to be clear that isn’t the case. It’s exactly the opposite. Your time and dedication and thoughts on my work means more to me than I can ever express. And I owe all of you a beta read if you ever want my eyes on anything you’ve written. But, despite the risk of offending those who have been so kind to me, I have to do what is best for my stories. As quirky as it is, the best thing for me to do is to wait, even though I’m itching to dive in.
So thanks again, beta readers, for kicking ass and taking names, and helping this struggling writer out and getting her one step closer to achieving her dreams. I can’t wait for that Panera date and see how much work is ahead of me. 😉