The 4 Stages of Beta Reading Grief

Though my novelette, Abuse of Power, was published in Myths Inscribed, I decided to send it to an editor before making it available for free through my website (I’ll go into detail on why I made that decision in a future post.). I sent it off yesterday, and, as always when I request feedback, I’m secretly hoping that the response will be, “It’s completely awesome. Make these two or three tiny changes, and it will be the greatest masterpiece ever created.”

In reality, I usually get, “It pretty much sucked. You need to start over.”

Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a little bit, and this piece has been vetted quite a bit prior to submission. Still, I’ve noticed that I typically go through four stages of grief when I get back beta reading comments:

Stage 1 – Depression

I don’t send out a piece unless I think it’s pretty good. Therefore, any criticism directly speaks to both my ability and my taste level. It’s hard to accept that what I thought was awesome is, in actuality, not.

Stage 2 – Denial

Luckily, the Good Lord blessed me with more than my fair share of self-confidence, so Stage 1 doesn’t last long. As my ego reasserts itself, my thinking becomes, “My writing is awesome. That beta reader had no idea what he was talking about!”

Stage 3 – Acceptance

Eventually, on the vast majority of items, I come to accept that the beta reader was right. As the old adage goes, your beta reader is almost always right when he says that you have a problem; your beta reader is almost always wrong when he tells you how to fix it.

Stage 4 – Change

The best comments are the ones that teach me a lesson about how to improve my writing. Not only do I accept that the beta reader was right and change that instance, I change the way I write to incorporate the lesson.


One thought on “The 4 Stages of Beta Reading Grief

  1. Brian, this is fabulous! I had to laugh because it mirrors my own experience with editors. It does help us separate ego from our work and continue to work harder to create better stories for others to read!

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