How Do You Deal with Beta Reader Anxiety?

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Happy Wednesday All! Today is Insecure Writers Support Group Day and you know what that means: time to thrust our fears and insecurities uponst the world.

Co-hosts today are TB Markinson, Tamara Narayan, Shannon Lawrence, Stephanie Faris, and Eva E. Solar. Make sure you stop by their blogs and say hello!

And guess what else? IWSG is hosting a short story contest! The deadline is November 1. The winning stories will be edited and published by Freedom Fox Press next year in the IWSG anthology. Click here to get the deets.

Okay. So, the first thing I’d like to do is apologize for being MIA. If you’ve been checking milk cartons for my pictures these last couple of months, don’t fret. I’m okay (and I promise to get caught up with all of you soon). My days have been insane lately and I only have about two hours of quiet in the mornings before spending the day chasing Le Munchkin (she loves to take my flip flops and run around the house. Don’t ask me why).  I’ve also been focused on finishing The Doggone Book (and a few other things that I’ll tell you all about later), and guess what???? I finally have a beta reader ready draft. Woo-hoo! *Throws confetti*

But, alas.

That brings me to my insecurity for this month. You know how you work on a story for a very very very long time, unleash it into the hands of others, and then develop anxiety that somehow, despite your best effort at writing a good story, the novel will absolutely suck? Well, that’s my issue these days (on top of wresting with what I’m going to write next). In fact, I’ve somehow developed beta reader anxiety (this is not to be confused with the anxiety a beta reader might feel when they get a story they’re just not into, but I should probably write about that as well).

To combat my angst, I’ve been telling myself that it’s just a story. As a writing professor once said to me, “How can it be wrong if you’re just making it up?” I’ve also been telling myself that in order to make the story better, what I need is good, solid feedback–no matter how much it stings. As writers, we know we need to have thick skin but our novels are our babies and you know what happens when somebody calls your baby ugly, right? Them’s fightin’ words!

What about others? How do you deal with beta reader anxiety? I’d love to hear your thoughts!


20 thoughts on “How Do You Deal with Beta Reader Anxiety?

  1. Gah. I CANNOT HANDLE IT. When I know anyone’s reading it, I try to forget about it and do anything else but think about it. But that’s impossible of course. I just keep obsessing over all the MSs flaws. Then when I know it’s with my agent I feel sick to my stomach, and tend to have dreams she emailed me telling me she hated it so much she wants to drop me as a client lol. I cannot deal with writerly anxiety! also, YAY I’VE MISSED YOU!!! xoxox

  2. Chillax Quanie, you’re a natural.

    But of course that’s easy for me to say because I’m not in beta reader purgatory at the moment…I think one of the best ways to deal with beta reader anxiety to to throw yourself into your next project. Holding your breath waiting for beta reader feedback doesn’t serve any purpose, but working on that next book does. In my observation (aka stalking) of successful writers I’ve noticed that one thing they all do is to keep it pushing; they’ve developed the habit of keeping a constant rotation of projects going. I’m still trying to learn how to do that!
    Faith Simone recently posted..ERIC JEROME DICKEY’S 6 TIPS FOR MAKING YOUR WRITING POP!My Profile

    • Faith, my eternal homie, girl, now you know I can’t work on that next book with that lil crumb snatcher running around stealing my flip flops! You know how much time I spend chasing this child? LOL! I did start an outline of a story but it’s SO HARD to keep momentum going when you don’t know what time you’re going to go to bed or get up. But you know what? I’m just going to do what I can and let God take care of the rest. Why stress???
      Quanie recently posted..How Do You Deal with Beta Reader Anxiety?My Profile

  3. If I ever figure out how to deal with beta reader anxiety, I’ll let you know. >_< I'm in that stage now, recently sent version 2.1 of my book out to beta readers and am waiting to hear back from them. Most response on this book has been overwhelmingly positive, but I made some significant changes, so I'm kind of sitting here waiting for the other shoe to drop. Gah!
    Mason T. Matchak recently posted..IWSG: The Tower of DiscardsMy Profile

  4. Quanie, great hearing from you again! I have that same anxiety but I suppose that’s normal (imagine not being anxious about sending your ms out to beta readers AT ALL!). Here’s my routine: Take a deep breath. Read the feedback. Go ahead and get defensive if necessary. Just don’t email them anything yet. Go away for a while then read the feedback again with an unbiased mind (something I know I can do).

  5. There you are! Missed you. Besides, I was getting sick of milk – ha!
    High-five on your ‘beta-reader ready’ book!! Anxiety is practically unavoidable but I take solace in the knowledge that our beta readers are notoriously helpful – not hurtful. I honestly think they take the process to heart as much as we do.
    Meanwhile, you deserve to celebrate with your flip-flop princess!
    diedre recently posted..Tempered ClassMy Profile

  6. In answer to your title question: I don’t. I wish I could say I’ve experienced that anxiety, but that’s another story. I can relate to your anxiety though. I guess it’s better to have the betas say something bad than to hear it from critics and readers after a work has been published.

    I’m sure it’s tough, but I guess you just have to go forth and deal with it. Pretend it’s not your baby. Yeah, like that can easily happen.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Arlee Bird recently posted..Shift Happens–I Hope (#IWSG & BOTB Results)My Profile

    • Hi Delali, thanks for stopping by! I remember back in my fiction workshop days. I would seriously have bats in my stomach all morning until it was time for my critique. I would shake up until it was my turn and even afterwards sometimes. Totally understanding the feeling of leaving your body. And of course, after some time passed I’d always go, “That wasn’t so bad!”
      Quanie recently posted..How Do You Deal with Beta Reader Anxiety?My Profile

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