Here’s the quick and dirty update! The graph says it all…
I learned something this week. Or, rather, something I already knew was confirmed.
Posting a story on the blog and putting up a generic call for beta readers and critique does not work for me.
I wrote a story for an antho, and although I had a clear idea in my mind what was going on, that was after months of thinking and creating and working out the details of exactly how this SciFi creature would interact with the world. It’s non-corporeal—meaning it doesn’t have a physical body—which made this story a challenge.
I loved the way it turned out, but I still had huge questions regarding whether or not it made sense, and was clear to the reader. Normally I’d pick a few beta reading friends and sit back and wait, but in this case the deadline was in less than two days, so I went another route.
Posting a story you intend to publish is always an iffy prospect. Publishers and editors may legitimately refuse a story, saying it was “previously published” if you put it up on your blog. I put the story up with a password, then posted the password. This made it so anyone who legitimately wanted to read it could easily get to it, but it cut way down on the number of people just casually wandered by. I was pleased to see a handful of hits soon, then a dozen, then more. A few of my friends (people I know in RL) gave me some feedback, but no one commented on the blog.
Fortunately, in the meantime, the editor decided to extend the deadline by ten days. And I’m so glad, because I was really beginning to suspect that most of the people looking at the post were going “WTF?” over my story, and not wanting to seem rude by saying so.
I would much rather have a handful, or even a mob of people tell me “Ya…I just don’t get it,” or “That was just weird and I couldn’t follow it at all,” as opposed having the one editor look at my story and have the same reaction. With beta-readers giving me the news, I have a chance to fix it. If the editor is the first one to tell me, it means the story dies and goes back on the shelf, possibly never to find a home. Not only that, but then there are a bunch of beta readers and an editor out there identifying my name with a piece that’s just not professional.
I poked my bestie and her hubby and got some great feedback, and one of my other regulars admitted “I just don’t get it.” Then, in a last-ditch effort, I shared the post (no longer passworded) with a a regular weekend blog hop. It only got four views. No comments.
I whined a little on twitter, admitting that I was pretty sure my lack of comments was due to the WTF? level of my story. A friend (and pro) took pity on me. She read it for me and confirmed the WTF?, but also gave very specific feedback with several ways I might fix this. Even if there were no suggestions about how to fix it, just being specific about what exactly was confusing was helpful.
I can’t say I’ll never do it again… never post something and ask for feedback from “anyone who happens by.” But it certainly doesn’t seem to be the most effective way for me to get feedback.
I’m always happy to add more beta readers to the list! And if you are burning to read the WTF? version of my story, click the link and type the password below.