But wait, perhaps I should go back a little further.
The first fictional story I shared with anyone was fan fiction (FF). For those of you who don’t know what that is, FF are stories based on already published books, movies, TV shows, or even real people in the media, called Real Person Fic. The FF community I initially belonged to was a very supportive one. Like, crazy supportive, and I’m still friends with a lot of people from that community. In fact, there are a group of us who chat nearly everyday. We encourage, support, and cheerlead each other, and most of us barely knew each other during our fan fiction days. Now that we are all publishing original fiction (OF), it’s crazy how much I miss the old days, and I don’t think I’m alone in that.
So I came from a community of writers and readers who would practically clamor to beta or pre-read a story, and I moved into the world of OF, where I’m scared to ask for readers. It’s a different experience, for some reason. Some of it is because many of my old readers are busy with their own work, editing, or else have no interest in reading outside of their FF worlds. Finding a great beta is hard too, but I think that’s an entirely different blog post I’ll need to write in the future.
I’m scared of showing my rough work to people too, but that’s not all.
Last year when I wrote North Star, I asked several people to pre-read. Because I had 3 large books released very close together as well as a YA adaptation of Spark and then a novella to boot, I felt like I was taking advantage. I had so many more words to read, so I quit asking for help. For Flare, book 3 of North Star, I did something crazy: I submitted my work to my publisher w/o anyone reading it first. Only after it was out of my hands, did I ask anyone to read it. Talk about nerve wracking, but I felt I needed to know if I could still get published that way.
Since then, I’ve written 2 short stories, both which have been seen by new eyes.
I value those new eyes and am beyond grateful for people who are willing to give me their honest opinion of my work. It’s hard to let go of a story I’m not entirely sure about yet and to give someone permission to rip it to shreds, but I need to do that so I can make it better in the end.
For those of you who have beta read, what is your experience? Do you feel used or are you glad to do this?
For writers, what is your experience? How do you find readers that are not only willing, but also helpful? Do you give betas specific instructions or do you let them do what they want?