My Friends the Beta Readers
Written by
Suzy Soro
July 2015
Written by
Suzy Soro
July 2015

As a former writer of screenplays, and a standup comic, I'm not afraid of feedback. One of my screenplays improved when a reader at a major Hollywood studio lambasted it. Her complaint was that a major character had done a very bad thing and the one he did it to didn't exact any revenge. I'd briefly thought about that when I was writing but decided it would result in a bitter ending. She further explained, "If it's funny, the audience will forget it's mean." She was right and I changed the ending. Meanwhile, the friend who gave my script to her apologized for the brutality of the remarks but I assured her it was a blessing in disguise. (Do they come any other way?) In standup you know immediately if your joke works and you eliminate it or try to rework it. I credit comedy with toughening me up. Other comics often give me punchlines that work better than the ones I have and it's an immediate, and grateful, inclusion into my act.

But for my first memoir, I found my friends were way too easy on me. Their corrections were all minor, and ultimately didn't help. Thankfully, I had an editor who didn't go easy on me. I don't find my work precious or remarkable when I'm writing and can eliminate whole pages without a single regret. More like a groan that I even wrote it in the first place. 

I've asked three people to read the final draft of my second book, Mommy Tried to Kill Me. I have a standard question I ask prospective readers: "Can you be brutally honest, not worry about my feelings, and point out the flaws?" Of the three, one told me he wasn't sure he could do it since he was a fan of my previous work. But he's a director, actor, and comic, so I feel his feedback would be insightful. I'm convinced he thought it would put our friendship on the line. (it won't) As for the other two, one I know from Twitter and she's edited before. The other one, an Emmy Award winning writer, has a one woman show running here in LA and told me she would be glad to help. And her show is fantastic. I don't know her that well but I trust she'll be honest. So it's the third person I'm conflicted over. Let him read it anyway or find someone else? 

Once you have a book published, people reach out and ask you to read their work. I did this for a while but stopped. Most would argue with my critique and there's nothing I could say except it's only my opinion when I want to say, toughen up and don't be so defensive. 

The one time I criticized someone's book cover, it was because it had nothing to do with the book. But he kept mansplaining to me why it did. When it was published, half of his reviews pointed out the flaw with the cover. 

Sadly, I enjoyed that.

Let's be friends

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