I’m a big fan of beta readers. I like to let people look at something I’ve written and give me notes on it, because I like to see how an audience will see the story once it’s out there. When I wrote the first 47 Echo book, I had a couple of thousand beta-readers, all reading live as I wrote each night. (I wrote the entire first draft live on Twitter over the course of a few months.)
The second 47 Echo novel has been a state secret compared to the first. To date, three people have read the draft. I got a lot more feedback from those folks, possibly because this time, they knew why they were reading it. And when the feedback came in, it was time to sit down and do the first self-edit.
I learned quite a lot about the way I write, both from this beta-read and from my wonderful editor on 47 Echo. I like to think that audience and editor feedback has made me a better writer, both technically and artistically. But it’s not the easiest thing in the world to take criticism, well-intended or not. The main trick I’ve found to dealing with it is to let go of the book before I send it out, to realize that any suggestions made are done in the spirit of trying to make the story the best it can possibly be. When viewed through that lens, criticism becomes easy to take, and actually kind of fun to look at.
What’s your strategy for dealing with edits and critique? How much do you allow it to affect the final work? Let’s converse on it in the comments — after all, I’m far more interested in you folks than I am in me.