So hopefully by Monday, many of my readers will have gotten back to me. I only have official comments from one person, and knowledge that 2 out of 6 people have opened the document I sent them about 2 weeks ago. Thankfully both who told me they opened also said they had difficulty putting it down.
That said, I will admit there was a certain amount of anxiety in submitting my pages to these beta readers, as well as the betas who are going through it in small pieces. I keep worrying somewhere within my manuscript there is a “WTF!” moment. A moment that makes the reader put the book down, and NEVER want to pick it back up. For 2 of my readers, I am happy to know that moment didn’t exist.
As someone who is also acting as a beta reader I have seen a few of these moments. When I saw them, I let the reader know “If I was an agent or publisher, I’d probably stop here.” I would then proceed with a LONG description as to why this is. Since I was a beta though, I would always stick it out, and read the remainder of what was sent. I realize that my book has a few pebbles that people can trip over in the beginning, and I look forward to smoothing that surface a bit more. That way people will have a smooth run from page one all the way to the end. That said, I wonder if I’m a little too harsh as a beta reader. My comments are usually constructive. I say usually, because there are places in my comments where I say”I don’t know if this is a problem, but I don’t like X” technically that is not constructive so much as it is admitting that this is a bias I personally have as a reader.
Still, my first chapter (that I completely deleted) definitely suffered from “I would stop reading this” syndrome. That’s why I deleted it. The beginning was slow. Sure it built a lot of stuff, introduced you to people, etc., but it did so at a snails pace. I got lots of muted/polite feedback on that chapter, and I kind of wish people had been harsher with me. It is for this reason, I am a harsh reader. I give praise, when earned, because I think it is helpful. However, the bulk of my notes are about problems.
Which would you prefer? A harsh critic or a muted one?