So you've written a novel, revised it, and now you're ready to unleash it on the world.
Or are you?
One of the most important aspects of novel writing is ensuring your manuscript has been effectively edited by a professional, and then reviewed by a select group of readers... your beta readers. Only when you send your novel to these readers will you know whether it's a potential hit or a miserable miss.
Look, I understand..every writer on the face of the planet thinks their latest work is the cat's meow, the holy grail to fame and fortune and so on. But you, as a writer, actually have no say whatsoever on the success of your story. Only when you put it out there into the world will you know. And chances are, most readers won't care about you or your story.
This is where the importance of beta readers comes in... a select group of 3 or 4 readers (not writers) who will read your story and tell you things like the following:
- did they like the hero?
- did they think the story's pacing was effective? That is, did it slow down too much in places and if so, where?
- was the dialogue crisp and believable?
There are any number of different things your beta readers will tell you. And if they come back with commens like "I couldn't put it down" or "it hooked me from the beginning", then you know you've got a potential winner.
Does that guarantee any kind of success? Not at all. There's a certain element of chance and luck involved in writing, just like there is in any endeavour. You know this to be true. You listen to some music that you think is brilliant, and yet no one else has heard of the musician. Same thing applies to novelists, leaders, parents... it's a bit of a crap shoot at the end of the day.
Still, if your beta readers come back and tell you they enjoyed your story, that's a great start. It's no guarantee that your story will be a best seller, but it's a whole lot better than hearing that your story was boring, unremarkable, stale, or any of those other descriptors.
Bottom line: no one can predict whether your novel will be a big hit. BUT, your beta readers (and other readers) will tell you whether your story is enjoyable or not. If it is, then wonderful things can happen!