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How to Overcome the Fear of Letting Others Read Your Novel

It's terrifying letting strangers review your work. Fears of, "Will they hate it?" prevail. But these are only growing pains. You have to not care if strangers don't like it because that stranger's job IS to tell you what they think is broken in it. You can't fix what you don't know is broken. Once they tell you what they think is broken, fix it, and send it out to another reader who will point out other broken things, and then you fix those, and repeat steps 1 and 2.

It's scary letting the world see it, but you must do it, because you are so familiar with your story that you stop seeing it, and you stop seeing its flaws. You MUST get unbiased eyes on your work from people who have zero care for your feelings (well, maybe a little care. Just make sure they are at least human.) Having mom read it is, though motivating, does zero to help make your writing better.

My mother-in-law loves every book I’ve ever written (all 10) and says there’s nothing wrong with any of them. And then 5 beta readers tell me my character acts a bit beneath her age and is slightly unrealistic. (Gee, thanks mother-in-law.)

But that’s okay. You get friends and family to read your work to motivate you, and you get strangers to read your work to tell you what needs to be fixed, because strangers may or may not motivate you and mom isn’t going to tell you what you should fix.

It’s scary having other’s read your work, but you must. Trust me. I've gone through it already, and it gets easier the more you do it... even if you have to hide your head in the computer and wait for judgment to be over.

To help this be less scary, don't show the world your first draft. Please. Your first draft is crap and everyone will see it and point it out as such and it will only discourage you. Polish it up a few times. Re-write it. I've never shown the world any of my books until the books have reached their 3rd draft (first draft, total re-write draft, and heavy polishing to equal 3.) That way I feel confident that beta readers won't find much. And they don't. But they still find things I missed - finding those things is their job - and I fix it without being discouraged about it. AND my readers love my writing. They wouldn’t have loved my writing had I shown them my 1st draft.

FINAL NOTE: Just because you love your work and your mom loves your work doesn’t mean anyone else will. Make sure you are confident you’ve done everything you possibly can to make your work shine before you send it off to the world. It will save you from a lot of future discouragement if you do.

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