Monday, May 12, 2014

The Importance of Diversity in Your Beta Readers/CPs

Most of the CP/Beta feedback I received on my first novel was from white, twenty to thirty something dudes. Like me. The responses I got were somewhere along the lines of:

"This rocks!"


"I love his voice!"

I was riding high. I had knocked it out of the park. Then I met a female CP who was digging it, too--until the third chapter. At that point, she said my MC was a jerk who seemed to just want to use women.

I laughed to myself.

I figured she just didn't "get it". She didn't understand how young guys thought. And she was just one voice crying foul from the dark.

Then an agent said the same thing, almost verbatim, that she enjoyed it until the same point in the story and then just saw my MC as a player douche.

Well, dang.

And after casting eyes across the pages once more--they were right.

Thankfully, the agent said she would look at it again if I fixed her area of concern. I crawled back to my female CP on hands and knees and asked her to look at my revision that focused on making the star of my book less of a tool.

She loved the revision.

Good! Great! Grand! Everybody on the bus!

But I wasn't finished. I met a self-declared feminist on Twitter and asked if she would look at it. She also brought in one of her CPs, who was not only a feminist but also a woman of color. They gave me great notes and thankfully my revision had hacked away any flagrant douchebaggery that had weighed my MC down without changing the story.

The point of this little learning experience is to do your best to have CPs from a wide range of characteristics and view points. It's the only way to really have your manuscript run the gambit and test its metal. Welcoming diversity in your beta readers means you'll have the perspective of individuals who are not like you. You don't have to agree with every critique they give but it'll give you a better idea of the different types of people who will walk the aisles of a bookstore where your tome may sit. And the whole point is to get those pedestrians to pick your baby up and head to the cash register, right? Right?


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