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More on Beta Readers

Beta readers are the best way to improve your novel. The key is to get betas who are 100% honest, even if they hurt your feelings.

Because they will.

Many people will say, “Be honest,” even though they really aren’t ready for it. Not that they're lying; they may genuinely think they can take criticism.

But getting critiqued can be like getting punched in the stomach. Until you've actually been punched, you don't really know how much it hurts.

Here's another thing: Most people, consciously or not, really don't want honest feedback about themselves. When they ask, "How's my haircut?", they are really looking for affirmation that the haircut is nice. 

The first time my manuscript was ripped, it hurt. A lot. But I wouldn't trade it for a gentle critique.

The problem with a sugarcoated critique is that it lacks the impact of a blunt one. If something in my manuscript sucks, I need to know how much it sucks, not just it sucks, because a big sucky thing needs a lot more fixing than a small sucky thing. 

However, beta critiques are subjective. Aside from grammar and logical issues like plot holes, there’s not much objective stuff to say about a novel. It often comes down to what a reader likes or dislikes. 

Moreover, betas will often disagree and you will sometimes disagree with a beta. A critique you disagree with is still useful. It forces you to justify to yourself why you want to do it your way. If you can't come up with a good reason, then your way is probably nicht gut.