Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Agree to Disagree

I've read on more posts than I can count that you should not include close friends and family members as readers of your manuscript. Well...

I disagree. When you're getting ready to show your manuscript to someone for the first time, I think these are exactly the people that should read it. Why? Because as writers we're feeling anxious, self conscious, and excited but more than anything we're feeling insecure.

Friends and family are the readers most likely to over-compliment. They'll bloat your ego when you're feeling most vulnerable. They'll help raise you up before your beta readers come in for the execution, er, edit.

Friends and family are, in my opinion, the "alpha readers" (ie. the first readers) and are helpful in letting you know if you're onto a good idea. But...good ideas don't equate to good writing let along great, publish-worthy writing or a tight storyline. All of these things, of course, need to play together for a novel's success. And it's your fellow beta readers who help identify how close--or far away--you are to these things.


Feeling confident that you're idea, you're foundation is at least striking a chord, resonating in some way, is helpful and a niche I think the alpha reader can help fulfill. Hopefully the "I don't get what's going on here" kind of comments more apt to come from these alpha readers will help you further tighten your plot line prior to a beta read.

So go on, I say. Let your biggest cheerleaders take a look. They'll give you the confidence you need to turn your manuscript--your baby--over to someone who might tear it apart.

And as you built it back together, your alpha readers will be there along the way to yank that wine glass out of your hand and supplant it with a laptop.

This doesn't mean a great writing network and support system of fellow authors or aspiring authors isn't necessary (They are!); it's simply to say that there are a lot of roles people can play in helping get your manuscript into submission ready shape so take advantage of them but be realistic too!

1 comment:

  1. I think allowing your friends to read your manuscript first is a great idea. I don't agree with using family members for prereading a book. I didn't get nearly as much support from family as I did, and still do, from friends.Their responses have been overwhelmingly enthusiastic, and encouraged me to publish. Maybe I just don't have enthusiastic siblings.Most love the steamy scenes,one of my siblings said she didn't like them, said they ruined the plot. Growing up we were pretty closed mouthed about sex..maybe this was the problem.Readers of the published book are giving me fantastic feedback for For The Love Of Lisa.