Earlier this year, I began to realize I was approaching the point in revisions where I would need to recruit some outside help. I was chipping away at the same parts over and over again, not feeling confident that I had really nailed down certain plot points or fully fleshed out certain characters. So, I made the decision to move through the manuscript one last time, then hand it off to a few sets of fresh eyes that might help steer me in the right direction.
I asked a few close friends who all enjoy reading the genre I was writing and who I thought would each have a different perspective. Luckily, they were all enthusiastic about seeing what I had been working on for so long and all agreed to help me out and give me the feedback I needed to move forward. They knew little about my manuscript, and none of them had ever been beta readers before, nor had I ever had beta readers before. It was a new step in my writing journey that we were all taking together.
It was not, however, perfect. One of my beta readers needed an extension, which was fine. We all had a lot of crazy things going on, so I had told all of them ahead of time if they needed more time to just let me know. They were doing me a huge favor, so I didn’t want this to be an extra stressor in anyone’s life. In the end, that beta reader ghosted me, which kind of hurts, but mostly I just hope he’s ok.
My other two beta readers finished on time and gave me some wonderful feedback, both encouraging and constructive. They liked a lot of things that I was doing and made good points on the topics I had asked them about, but also on some things that I hadn’t even thought to ask them about.
There are plenty of resources to find beta readers if you’re on more of a strict timeline than I was, and want some more reliable people than randomly asking friends, and it may be something I try out in the future. However, even though it wasn’t a perfect experience, I loved being able to share my story with other people and hear their thoughts on what I’ve been working on for so long. I’m eternally grateful to the friends who gave their time to helping me improve my writing.