Stop the Lessons I Want to Get Off
Contributor
Written by
Suzy Soro
August 2015
Contributor
Written by
Suzy Soro
August 2015

Life is one endless loop of lessons. And just when you think you've mastered them all, you decide to become a writer.

I didn't have problems with my first book because only one person read it before I sent it to my editor and she mutilated whipped it into shape. These are the lessons I learned from beta readers for my second book:

1. Ask people if they have time to read you. If they don't, believe them and move on to someone else. 

2. Don't get angry if they turn you down. There will be plenty of time to make them wrong for this slight when you're on the New York Times best seller list, or just completing their Sunday crossword puzzle, which in my case requires lying.

3. Give people a time frame to get back to you. I forgot people have jobs and/or families because I don't have either. It was difficult watching one of them, who did not get back to me, sit on Twitter hours every night after claiming they could "hardly wait" to read me. But it was my fault because I knew this was their usual behavior. And I didn't give them a deadline. 

4. Pick 3 major things you want feedback on. I mistakenly only asked one of my readers, an author, to check specific sections. I knew them well and trusted their opinion. They were one of 2 (out of 10) who never got back to me.

5. Which brings me to this: I turned my Word doc into a pdf and loaded it into Dropbox. When "my" time to receive feedback had ended, I removed the pdf from Dropbox, the link went dead, and I was assured no loose copies of this draft could float around the internet. Not that I thought I'd written another Bossypants but manuscripts can change so drastically from one to the next, I had to be sure I wouldn't get feedback two years after I published it.

6. If you're a humor writer, ask a comedian to do the punch up. This is a hard one for humor writers to grasp. Because after 30 years in the comedy business I've learned that everyone thinks they're hilarious. Check out Amazon reviews of humor books you've read. The phrases tears running down my face or the words hilarious or funny appear in a lot of the reviews. And we all know the opposite is often true. Any book written by a comedian is usually run by other comedians for punch up before publication.  

So there they are, my lessons. I'd love to hear what others have learned from their beta readers. 

Let's be friends

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