Monday, December 5, 2011

For the World to See

I have returned from my trip, and despite being jetlagged and overtired and hungry at odd hours, I do think I'm making a good deal more sense than I was last week.

Since I got back late Friday night, I have been pretty darn productive. I unpacked, did laundry, cleaned my apartment, went grocery shopping, made new To-Do Lists and tossed old ones, and finished the third draft of the novel. (That last one's not as impressive as it sounds. I only had two chapters left.)

And then, my friends, I sent it off to my group of beta readers.

That's right. A whole group of people! Who are going to read a book. That I wrote.

Ruh roh.

I was talking to a dear writer friend about this stage of the process, and how both exciting and nerve-wracking it is. I mean, you want people to read your stories, right? That's why we write them! But at the same time, it removes all plausible deniability you might have had, from your friends or family or coworkers or casual Facebook acquaintances. You can't be all like "yeah I write sometimes there's this story that maybe someday IDK just give me the vodka".

Now you're all like, "Yeah. I wrote a book. That's a thing that I did. Shit."

There's a lot of reasons that's a good thing. There can be a few drawbacks, though. If your friends are anything like mine a bunch of them will be lining up going, "Oh oh oh when can I read it!" and you want to be all NEVER but then you'd feel bad and also, maybe they'll buy it when it's on shelves someday. But I'm not going to e-mail my book out to all 300 people who send me pleading Facebook messages.

My beta readers are writers - published and non - or book reviewers or avid readers in the genre that I write or, ideally, some combination of the three. The same way a painter would not be expected to make 3,000,000 photocopies of their own work and stick them in just as many envelopes to mail out to their friends, so too should writers not be expected to provide ON DEMAND access to our work.

Like, I want to sell that shit someday, yo. You want to read it, pony up.

But one way or the other, if we're successful, these people are all going to have the ability to read it someday.

And that's pretty cool.

How do you feel about sharing your work with the world? Does the idea excite you? Terrify you? Are you close to having to consider it as a Really For Real-Reals Possibility, or are you not yet to this RIDICULOUSLY TERRIFYING portion of the publishing journey? Please share!


  1. I've found that a lot of people say they want a free copy and will insist on it but then few will actually get around to reading it.

    Like you I have a couple of beta readers I trust and then afterwards I expect others to actually pay for the novel in the "final" form.

    I was sharing my work with the rest of the world and it terrified me but after my novel Hollowstone came out, I kinda got over it, having now gone through that experience.

  2. I've only just reached the point where I have work that's close to good enough for readers. Over the next few months as I continue revisions I plan to put out more feelers for potential betas. The thought is terrifying and exhilarating! I want to make sure I choose people who: 1) have a personal connection to me, 2) are avid and discerning readers, and 3) will have useful critiques to give back to me.

  3. it's terrifying, but it needs to be done. How else are you going to make your work better? Let's be honest, it's hard to be critical of our own work at times.