A New Kind of Beta Reader
As authors, one of the things we get more than anything else is criticism. We send our baby books to betas and CPs (which literally stands for Critique Partner), and we enter contests just for the chance at agent feedback, racking up query rejections and a whole lotta nope! try agains in the meantime – taking the bad with the good is our way of life.
But what if it didn’t have to be the only way we receive feedback?
Now, don’t get me wrong, I understand that for some people, getting feedback in the first place is difficult. Finding a good CP is like finding a spouse. Finding a group of them takes a lot of time, and a lot of bad first dates (swaps).
I’m really writing this for the people who already have a crew of CPs and Beta Readers that hand over feedback of, “I love your new manuscript! Let’s talk about those character arcs tho...”
This is for those who have had nothing but edit letters for years, and are getting hammered with critiques from agents, contests, writer support groups, creative friends, and the like.
So I’m talking about introducing a “Positivity Pass” in book critiquing.
WHAT’S A POSITIVITY PASS?
Well, it’s what it sounds like. A read of your manuscript, either ending with a Letter or In Doc Comments, that ONLY INCLUDES THE POSITIVE.
No “This could be better.”
No “Watch this.”
No “Huh? You lost me.”
Just the good LOLS and OMGs and YOU’RE RUINING MY SOUL WITH YOUR GORGEOUS PHRASING
Offer a Positivity Pass to a writer you care about, and seek one for yourself in return, being absolutely clear in what you’re asking for.
The reason is simple: to keep THEM, and YOU going, and remind you both why you’re doing this in the first place.
To validate your place as an author, and reaffirm your belief in the gushing of others when they flatter you. Because Imposter Syndrome is a bitch.
This challenge also rests on the honor system: with the understanding that your book DOES need edits, because it does.
It’s with the understanding that you have another person (preferably more than one) that is NOT your Positivity Buddy who will provide those critiques and make sure you do the work.
But providing that gut check is not the role of the Positivity Buddy, or the Positivity Pass.
It’s to show you where you’re getting it RIGHT. Where your hard work is paying off.
Because you are TALENTED, and people believe in YOU, and what you’ve created is important.
DO YOU REALLY NEED A POSITIVITY PASS?
More, could it hurt?
In the book world, we already show a lot of support through peer reviews, yes. Boosting other’s books, deal announcements, cover reveals, and leaving positive reviews and such on social medial.
But what if you’re still in the process of finding an agent, or a crew of CPs? Or even if you have an agent and a book deal, but you’re trying to write the next book and struggling with writer's block, or plain old doubt?
When was the last time someone just said, “This was great! I really enjoyed this.” And NOTHING ELSE???
Have you EVER had someone do that?
Grab a positivity buddy. Get a positivity pass. Reinforce yourself with the good, not just the bad.
It is not a crime to ask for feedback that is only positive.
As long as you are responsible with how you use it, and are seeking balanced feedback.
I say again: balanced feedback. That means a lot of “Work on this”. But I fear we forget about seeking the “You did great HERE” part, too. Or maybe we just feel it's wrong, or egotistical. Fuck that. Get your compliments.
THE CHALLENGE IN MOTION
I’ll be honest: I’ve done Positivity Passes for people. For authors I love who were getting hammered with rejections, tough critiques, and knew they had stuff to fix. I knew they would fix it, and they didn’t really need another person telling them that. So I created a new role for myself, one that served them better.
Taking the time to go through and mark only the good, the parts that made me laugh and swoon . . . those olive branches of validity did wonders for my friends. Because that’s what a Positivity Pass is: it’s “I see you, and what you’re doing, and I believe in you. I know you’re gonna get there. And this is how I know.”
Sometimes, you can just be told “You wrote a good book. Well done!” And rest on that for a bit.
Because you did.
So find someone to remind you of that, and please remind someone else while you’re at it. We all could use a little more positivity in the world.