There comes a time in (hopefully) every writer’s life where, at least once, you send your story out to a Beta Reader for feedback. You love your story and you so badly want everyone else to love it, too. Alas, that is not always the case. Here are some helpful DOs and DON’Ts when dealing with the not so positive feedback:
Thank your Beta. After all, they took time out of their busy life to help you with yer crap.
Stay calm and look at their notes objectively. It’s one thing if they’re saying that you suck and they hate your story. It’s another thing if they’re pointing out places that they lost interest or stopped reading. Maybe you did something icky. Wouldn’t you rather know?
Offer to return the favor. We all need each other here. Plus you get karma points for being a good sport.
Disregard everything they say because you’re mad. This is not good for you as a writer, and this is not good for your story.
Pitch a fit and throw kool-aid in their face. This is what babies do.
Send an angry email in return. Hello, um, no. It’s called balls. Grow some.
Unfollow them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, We Heart It, Tumblr, or anywhere else you may be following them unless you just want to look super petty like that.
Return the favor because you want to blow off steam by blasting them. Again, you look like an ass.
Getting tough feedback is not easy to swallow. We ALWAYS want people to fall in love with our stories. I have been writing for a LONG time, and I knew I needed feedback to get better, so I asked my friends, I asked people I wasn’t friends with who I knew read a lot in the genre I write in, I asked siblings. And I have NEVER been an ass to someone who was trying to help me, and I haven’t retaliated by writing them angry emails, ignoring them, or tearing up their stories in return.
This is saying a lot because I am admittedly not very mature for my age (whatever that means), and I am emotional to the extreme. I was in freaking high school and had someone give me tough feedback to my face, and I while I fumed about it in my head (because that is SO allowed), I thanked her to her face and continued to talk to her on a regular basis because she was just being honest, and we need that in a beta reader.
We are writers, and we have to understand that sometimes people take a shiz on our manuscript. If that hurts your feelings to the point where you don’t like your beta anymore, I hate to break it to you, but writer-fries, you don’t need to be a writer. That is nothing compared to what the public will do when they get their hands on your book.
I see books I love getting ripped to pieces on Amazon and Goodreads ALL the freaking time. It’s tough out there. If you get bitchy because your beta said you could do better, then you’re going to have a hard time in life. Keep in mind, if they say you can do better, that’s because they think you have enough talent to do better. That means they believe in you. That means they don’t think you suck. This means there is no reason for you to turn into an asshole.
Unfortunately, I have been on the receiving end of silent and not-so-silent hate from writers I have beta’d for. I’ve also been on the receiving end of an uncomfortable amount of praise (some of it has even come for the same person who spewed hate just a month before!) I’m not a sugary coat kind of beta. I’m also not a rip-you-a-new-butt-hole kind of beta either. I try really, REALLY hard to phase the less positive things as gently as I can and mush it together with genuinely positive things. Because I want the writers I beta for to thrive. I’m really good at betaing, and I know it. I know how to keep my personal opinions about their writing style to myself (unless it’s genuinely distracting). So I bring my best to them so they can do their best with the feedback that I’ve given them.
Betaing takes a lot of time, especially when there are a lot of problems to point out, so to be spit on when I’ve have taken such care to help someone is disappointing to say the least. I’m a writer too, and I have a full-time job. If I’m betaing for someone, that means I am not writing because I am using my writing time to help them.
I had someone tell me once that they thought my main character was unlikeable and a bitch and they wouldn’t want to follow them around for an entire story. My jaw dropped. Then I picked it back up and read the rest of their feedback. Then I followed them on Twitter. And I LOVE this person. So I think if I can take that being the crazy emotional person that I am, the writers I beta for ought to be able to take what I dish out, because I’m a lot nicer than I want to be. Where I want to say, “Ugh, this sucks!” I say, “I zoned out here. Do you think you can rewrite this with less superfluous details?” See. Totally nice. Also, that took even more of my time to phase it in a way that was more helpful and less harsh. Respect.
So, please don’t spit on your beta reader. Don’t hate them. Don’t be disrespectful. They will remember it.