Who Would Read My Writing? (Part 1)

Getting feedback on your writing is like going to the dentist:

Yeah, a scary dentist with huge fingers and bad breath…

Where you find out your X-rays are out of date and they usher you in before you can protest. You cut your cheek on the bite plates, then they point out your cavity. No, wait! Not one, but five cavities! Oh, and by the way, you also need a root canal. BUT the good news? They can fix you all up in an hour — you just need to wait in the crowded waiting room and let your anxiety take over.

An eternity later, you find yourself in the sticky vinyl chair enduring the needles, drilling, scraping, and bleeding gums. You tell yourself that it’ll be over soon and you’ll end up with a much better smile.

For me, the process of receiving feedback on my writing is like visiting the dentist. Like the smile you leave the office with, the story you produce from the feedback is invaluable. As I’m nearing completion of my writing/revising/editing portion my novel, Love, Lies, & Clones, I’m trying to sort out the best way to get a few beta readers and some initial feedback. There are lots of choices:

  • Online vs. in person
  • Strangers vs. acquaintances
  • Paid vs. free
  • Writers vs. readers

Online Vs. In Person

Well, this may be obvious. Online gives you more anonymity, but in person gives you more of a conversation and ability to ask questions. I think it’s really a matter of what your options are where you live and what you are most comfortable with.

Online options like critique forums (www.critters.org , www.scribophile.com , etc.) are great resources. I’ll discuss these more in part 2 of this post (coming next week).

In person ideas are a local writer’s group or hitting up your circle of friends and family. I’ve thought about putting out a Facebook post: Is anyone willing to read my novel/story/etc.? I imagine, I’ll get a taker or two.

Strangers Vs. Acquaintances

Another matter of personal preference. I personally feel a little odd asking a friend or family member to give me their honest feedback. I feel it puts them in an uncomfortable situation if they didn’t like what you wrote. (So, I’ll probably never write that Facebook post.) Plus, there is the “mother effect”. I’ve given my writing to my mom and she always says the same thing. “It’s great! I liked it! Keep going!” As nice as this is to hear, it doesn’t help further develop the story or improve my writing ability.  I feel strangers are a good choice.  They don’t know me and aren’t afraid to be honest — keep in mind though, some of them can be brutally honest and you need thick skin.  (Not like me who quit writing for nearly 10 years after my first experience with a critique forum.)

Paid Vs. Free

Who doesn’t want everything free? Getting a quality reader for free takes some leg work and even if you find someone, they may not even complete reading your piece to give you feedback. I think that’s why there is a growing community of beta readers who charge to read your work. Prices between $25 to $100 seem to be common. This doesn’t seem like a lot, but now if you want a few people to give you feedback, it adds up. Especially if you then fix some issues and want to try again.  I can see some value if you can find a quality/legit paid beta reader for an initial read through before asking for more people.  I may do this, but I don’t know yet.

Writers vs. Readers?

I really think you get much different feedback from a fellow writer opposed to a reader only. Having BOTH read your work seems to be the most helpful. A writer will point out how you can make something better, but might also derail you from the intention of the piece/paragraph/scene by giving you suggestions on how they would have done it. Readers are great for giving you believability, plot holes, and pointing out the boring parts. I know that many writers are also readers, but the difference is interesting when it comes to feedback on your writing.

* * * *

So, for me…. Due to geographical location and my little bit of social anxiety, I enjoy having a stranger read my writing for the first time and gravitate towards internet resources. Stay tuned for part 2 of this post with a focus on different online resources for critiques/feedback. It should be posted next week.

How do you like to share your first draft?

I’d love to hear your thoughts of strangers vs. friends, online or in person, free or paid, or writers or readers?

As always, thanks for reading!

–Joy

20140719-BatteryParkCityNY-LunchWithErinAndrew (56Edit)

 

 

About Joynell Schultz

Writer & lover of all types of speculative fiction. I'm shivering in northern Wisconsin. Learn about my novels here: http://Author.to/JoynellSchultz
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14 Responses to Who Would Read My Writing? (Part 1)

  1. Mary says:

    I asked three voracious readers (who are also related to me) to read my novel. Four months later all three haven’t yet read it — even though I asked them to stop when they couldn’t stand another word and tell me. Was it so bad they won’t even tell me?? I wonder. Lesson learned: don’t do that again.
    So I’m reading your post (and the next one) with avid interest. Somebody’s got to read it. I already love it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, I feel your pain! I’ve been through that too. The other side though, is that they give it back to you and say it’s great, but then you sent it to an agent and it’s really crap. Who knows. I learned that a lot of family will say they’ll read it, but just never give it the time because they don’t think it will be good. Thanks for reading and waiting for part 2. I hope it helps. I know it helps me to put it all down on virtual paper. Good luck!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m part of a writer’s group with 3 others, which has been fun. When we’re all working on things, though, reading and commenting on their stuff takes away from my own writing time. But they’ve given me great feedback, so I think it’s worth it! Kind of like a paid beta reader but with a different currency.

    Also, I’d love to beta read for you sometime if you want! I really enjoy reading what other people are working on… And it could give me a nice break from revising my own manuscript 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • First off, wow. I didn’t expect the offer to beta read for me sometime. I truly appreciate this. Secondly, how did you find your writer’s group? It does sound like a great time!

      Like

  3. Great blog! The problem with family and friends is they do tell you it’s great. Partly because they don’t understand the craft and partly because they don’t want to hurt your feelings. You send it to an agent and if you’re lucky or unlucky depending on how you want to look at it 🙂 you get a response overflowing with constructive criticism. Guess it wasn’t as great as they thought. And as you said, while the writing community is great and mostly want to help, you have to be careful and not let them derail your work. I never thought about a beta read. To be honest I never heard of it. Sounds like something worth looking in to. Thanks 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I made the mistake of sending a novel to a few agents WITHOUT having any beta readers first. All I received was form letters returned. I’m not making that mistake again! Thanks for reading and good luck with the search for beta readers. My next post is full of ways to find them. I’ll have that done later this week.

      Like

      • Hey Joynell I did some research after reading your blog to get a better understanding of what a beta reader is since I had never heard the term. I do blogs on Tues and Thurs and decided to use that info to share on my site today. I did mention you since you spurred the idea. Can’t wait to see what you share on it later in the week. I am getting close to needing someone to review my work. Thanks again.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I’m glad I gave you an idea to research and was thrilled to hear you were inspired to write a blog using the beta reader idea! I’m heading over there to check it out next!

          Like

  4. Pingback: Who Would Read My Writing? (Part 2) | Joynell Schultz

  5. Keigh Ahr says:

    A very thoughtful and useful analysis. I like how you present a number of options, including those which you don’t pursue for your own work. I’ve recently joined a local writers group, which meets once a month for peer reviews. For the first meeting I attended last month, I just observed so that I could get a feel for the group dynamic and make sure I’d feel comfortable contributing. For the next meeting this Saturday, I’m going to serve as a reader only, and assuming that goes well also I’ll then be a contributor the following month. It feels good to be soliciting feedback on my writing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for dropping the comment, I really appreciate the feedback! I’d love to have a local writer’s group to join, but it also makes me extremely nervous. I’d love to hear how your meeting goes on Saturday!

      Like

  6. Pingback: Can I Ask a Question? | The Diligent Dilettante

  7. Morgan says:

    My friends do that whenever I ask them to read something I’ve written. “Yes. It’s great; now, what do you think of…”

    Liked by 1 person

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