• Vendela Ahlström

Thoughts on Beta Readers (before)

I'm about to send Visions of Ravens off to beta readers. Even thought it's 'done'.

The thing is, I never had beta readers. I never felt like it was the right time in the process. I had my critique partners look at it throughout the rewriting process and that was super helpful. I learnt so much from them and the manuscript has improved so much since then.


Now, I spoke to an agent at an event regarding my manuscript and when telling him that I was on my sixth draft (I was proofreading at the time) and had had CPs look at earlier drafts, he asked if I really needed beta readers.


This threw me and my automatic response was, well yeah, everyone needs beta readers. He kinda shrugged and said, not necessarily. He reiterated that I was on my sixth draft and at some point I would have to learn to let go. That it was time query.


I did submit to the Faber Anthology (more about that in another post), but the thought of querying terrified me in case I wasn’t finished. What if I thought it was finished, but it clearly wasn’t, and I should have had beta readers look at it?


Now, I just happen to be part of a beta reading group that reads a manuscript every two months and it just so happens that I asked if I could have the earliest possible slot, which was November/December and I got it.


November has rolled around and I’ve just shared the google doc and am about to send the pdf to those who prefer that format.


I’m terrified. Because part of me is doing this because I feel like I have to, and the other part of me wonders if I really do. I guess what I’m scared of is the fact that if the beta readers point out areas of improvement, or places that need changing (which is a great thing, cause that’s what they’re for) then I don’t really know what to do with myself.


I’ve been working on Visions of Ravens since 2019 and I’ve gone through complete rewrites. I’ve got seven different drafts on my laptop. I’ve cut PoVs, whole characters, entire subplots and romantic endeavours. I’ve added all the twists and turns I can think of. I don’t know what else to change! I don’t know how else I can change it! And the thought that I might have to go in and perform surgery on this book baby again, makes me both a little sad, and quite honestly, tired.


This group will have until mid-Jan to read the MS. That’s enough time away from it, I think, that by the time I get the feedback, perhaps I will feel more prepared for the comments. I will have worked on something else, I will have plotted out the next book in the series. I will have had space to collect myself and prepare myself for the feedback.


I know it will be fine. And I know I want the feedback. Better now than later down the line. But that doesn’t mean I’m not apprehensive and a bit hesitant as I click the send button. This is huge for me! People who don’t even know the names of my characters are going to read it from beginning till end.


And that my friends, no matter how useful and helpful it will be, is terrifying.


(I thought I'd post another blog post about this whole process afterwards to see how it went and my thoughts about it in retrospect, hence the title of this blog post.)

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