Now HOLD on a minute, you guys

You're making me nervous.

One person with strong opinions should not make you change your book.

IF you think it works, give me the razzberry, the bronx cheer, the Boston driver's favorite finger.

Because honestly? If the world of books paid attention to me:

4LKH, that woman who writes mysteries and has three names all of which escape me at the moment**, Tom Clancy, and a truck load of other writers would not be best sellers. Maybe a couple of their books might sell okay.

4No books would be written that contained any of the following:

secret babies
uber-alpha heroes
vampires [with rare exceptions]
Big Misunderstandings
over-priced brand-name shoes
recipes mixed with murder mysteries
woodland elves that speak with fae Irish/Scottish accents
Beautiful Evil Other Women Who Plot To Get the Hero
Susan Silverman
a hero who calls the heroine 'baby'
heroines who dress up like men and manage to fool everyone
evil guys who cackle all the damn time
many pages of hateful arguments between the hero and heroine
mysteries solved by animals
law-abiding people in harm's way who don't call the police.

Need I point out the stacks of bestsellers--adored by many hundreds of thousands of people--which contain one or more of these elements? Dammit, I love some of those books too.

4Diane Farr, Edith Layton, Barbara Metzger, Teresa Bodwell and a whole bunch of writers you've never heard of would hit the bestseller lists regularly. They don't, I don't think.

Unless you have a long-term successful relationship with your first reader (a la Stephen King), it is to be absolutely required that you ignore most of the beta reader's advice that has to do with Her Opinion--versus plot holes, actual mistakes etc.

I just read a note from a writer who said that rotten reviews were making her think about giving it up. Easy enough for anyone who isn't that writer to see that even the Biggest Names in ReviewerWorld should not make such a huge dent in a writer's thick skin. Same for first-time beta readers of all stripes, only more so--even if they do know the Top Secret Published Persons' Handshake. Bad reviews are horrible but at least they don't make you go back and trash your manuscript.

The huge exception to this absolute requirement: your beta reader is your editor, you lucky turkey.

Thank you,
Your Beta Reader


**updated: Mary Higgins Clark.


  1. Eh, don't sweat it so much, baby ;)

    I know an unsatisfying ending when I read one . . . and if your advice leads me to a better ending, and I give you partial credit for guiding me there, then you should rejoice. Enough with the beta reader angst.


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