Writing Tips

How to Handle Your “Awful” Beta Readers

So you found out that your beta reader’s feedback isn’t exactly what you were hoping for. It’s not necessarily a bad thing to get upset about criticism, but to take your frustrations out on your beta(s) is a shitty thing to do. Don’t get me wrong, there are some betas who go a bit overboard on their feedback but that doesn’t give you an excuse to verbally attack them.

No matter how “awful” your beta readers might seem, it’s always better to be courteous and kind. Here are a few steps to keep you on track when you feel like your about to explode.

Step 1: Cool Down

You just received some criticism about your book, and holy shit it’s the fucking apocalypse! You are fuming with anger so strong it could explode volcanoes, and you are crying tears that could flood the earth.

Are you done yet?

If you answered no, that’s okay. Go ahead and continue to rant to yourself, your friends, your partner, your goldfish…whoever, as long as it’s NOT your betas. Get your frustrations out now! Don’t carry them with you when you have your fingers on that keyboard ready to send a message to your beta.

Take this time to process your beta reader’s feedback and give yourself a day, or two, or maybe more to cool down. This way you can have a clear mind and realize how ripping your beta a new one isn’t such a good idea.

Step 2: Thank Them

Your beta reader just did a favor for free. For FREE! They spent their time reading your possibly horrendous, unedited book and provided feedback. You should be grateful for what they did, whether you agree with them or not.

Don’t be whiny and sour. Suck it up and thank them. It’s the least you can do.

Step 3: Don’t Argue

Hopefully by the time you message your beta, which you should since they did send you feedback, you’ve cooled down.

If you still have that urge to argue, remember this:

Everyone has their own opinions. This might come as a shock to some, but your just going to have to face it.

You can’t expect your beta readers to agree with you and to like every part of your book or just the entire book in general. Beta readers are trying to help you and expressing their honest opinion is fair. Honesty is what you should ask for and what you should expect if you want to improve your book.

It’s understandable to be upset with some of the feedback you received but do not express to your betas how wrong you think they are. This is where everyone has their own opinion should register in your brain.

Not only will arguing get you no where, it could also cause unnecessary conflict. It’s very unprofessional and you will just look like an ungrateful asshole.

Step 4: Put Yourself in Their Shoes

Writer’s have an attachment to their books. I mean why wouldn’t they, it’s something they wrote from their own flesh and blood.

When reading your beta reader’s feedback remember that they are there to help. They aren’t trying to attack you or your work. Look at their feedback objectively. If you are too busy complaining, you won’t realize that maybe your novel might need more work than you thought it did.

Step 5: Ask Them to Clarify

Not all beta readers will provide the feedback you want. And that’s okay.

This is when you as the writer should take a moment and ask your betas to expand on their thoughts. If needed, you can provide some examples on the kind of feedback you want.

If they still aren’t giving you what you are looking for, oh well. It’s not the end of the world. You can always find another beta.

Step 6: Don’t Explain Yourself

You might have the urge to explain every detail your beta readers didn’t understand or missed.

Maybe you should reconsider that thought.

There are only 2 reasons you should explain your story to your beta readers:

  1. If they genuinely want to know.
  2. If you need more help on a specific section.

Otherwise, don’t waste your time or your beta readers. You can’t make people see the book the way you want them to. Instead, focus your efforts on trying to improve your book and figure out why they misunderstood something. Cause you know, it could be your book that is the problem, not them.

Step 7: Kindly Drop Them

Not every beta reader is going to be suitable for you. If you don’t like them, drop ’em. Explain a bit as to why you are letting them go, and thank them for their time. It’s that simple. Don’t be afraid of them getting offended. If they do, don’t let it bother you. At least, you did your part right.

So that’s it! If you find yourself getting upset, the best thing to do is follow these steps and learn to develop a thicker skin, so this won’t happen again in the future. If you already have, then good for you!

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