Should I have my Manuscript Beta Read?

Be forewarned, consider this post as personal opinion!

After finishing Acceptance two years ago, I spent a large portion of my free time editing and revising. I’ve gotten a lot of constructive critique feedback. From this I’ve been able to improve the glaring flaws and sneaky typos.

I’ll admit, I’ve taken my sweet time with my first novel. It’s the beauty of being an unpublished author. But now I’m ready to take this seriously, it’s time to stop dragging my feet. Two months ago I took my efforts up a notch and started spitting out query letters and ramping up beta readers. Nothing is going to stop me from getting my work published. I’m ready.

As it stands now, I’m happy with my manuscript. I feel it’s perfectly ready for the world. However, after a few beta reads I’m left hopelessly confused. I wonder if all writers go through this? Was it a mistake to even have beta readers?

The general feedback is:

50% – Wow! Your writing technique is so eloquent, you have some sick talent. This is beautiful.

50% – … You seriously expect to publish this? The story is awesome, but the storytelling has me bored.

This is the first time I’ve gone through beta readers, and I think if I went through more I’m going to get the same result. It would make sense, in the world of entertainment there is nothing that everyone loves. But I was hoping for something more helpful than 50-50.

Considering other published works, there are different levels of fame.

1) You have the popular fads, but those fade quickly. And only the selective targeted audience is going to love it.

2) The old classics, which are classic for a reason: they have a unique quality that stands them apart from everything else.

3) And there are definitely those works that are a love/hate relationship. Either you love it, or you just can’t stand it.

Maybe I have to accept that my debut novel is in the third category.

I’m going to look at this as a “glass-half-full” situation and keep trudging on. J.K. Rowling took ~200 queries to find an agent, if I hit that mark without success then I will consider rewriting my voice. Or otherwise, pursue self-publishing (half an audience isn’t half-bad). I know my second manuscript doesn’t have this issue, from the feedback I’ve received Sanctuary is closer to 80%-Like 20%-Not a Fan.

In the meantime, I will consider the feedback from the 50% haters on Acceptance, but honestly if I take such advice I will be rewriting the entire voice of my manuscript. In the end, I have to decide on giving in, and risk losing the 50% which do like my work as it is, or stick to my gut which tells me to keep my novel genuine to me.

To answer the post question: Should I have my novel beta read? Yes.

Even though I personally got such conflicting results, I still think the answer is yes. Even with information overload, or conflicting information, it’s important to judge how the public will react to your work. I’m happier knowing rather than not. Instead of frolicking in the fields of “I’m awesome”, I’m forced to sit down and seriously ponder my work. My final decision will be an informed one.

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