Writing is amazing. And weird. And hard. Maybe in that order and then scrambled again. Well, take it back. It’s amazing at first when you get an idea. Or for me it is. I always think whatever I’ve written is my last piece, truly. But then it happens again. I’m usually sparked by some external experience — watching someone else’s play or film or listening to a piece of music. My personal inspirations rush in, a place, a theme, a character flaw, and I start writing.

It’s such a cozy time during the early writing days. You’re spending a lot of quality time together like a brand new relationship. Often as I’m falling asleep, the latest scene will replay in my head, the back and forth, what was felt, what wasn’t, what was said, what wasn’t. Some writers get major editor brain from the get-go. Not me. I just write and don’t care and accept it’s imperfect.

But the amazing time always ends, because you need to get feedback. That’s the weird part which messily slides into the hard part quickly. It’s like bringing your kid to the first day of school. You think she looks great (new dress! hair in two braids! what a smile!) But it’s possible that her fellow classmates may see her differently (buck teeth! cross eyed stare! bad breath!)

Translation? You get feedback that the first 10 pages of your novel doesn’t hook readers and that character of yours (INSERT NAME HERE) lacks a clear journey.


But necessary.

Case in point. See the picture below of me when I’m twelve? I’m sure my mother, the Author of me, would say I was cute, but, well, you get it. It can all be subjective.

Jennifer Bowen

It’s this hard part that scares a lot of the first time Authors I’ve spoken to via BookHive. Who wants to go in front of the firing squad? The flat computer screen and yourself on the couch, that intimate tête-à-tête, is such an easier place to live. I get it.

We do our best at BookHive to protect our Authors. We do this by carefully vetting our Test Readers. We’ve all been on blogs or Facebook when a psycho outlier goes for the jugular. If I ever see that kind of feedback from a Test Reader, which is unnecessarily snarky and cruel, we never use them again. Everything is tailored for the Author. From the way we order the questions, to who we pick to test their novel, BookHive does its best to give the Author the most potentially positive and useful outcome.

That all said, it’s still scary for the writer. I recently had a play workshopped in New York and I found myself really distancing myself, emotionally and physically, from the rehearsals. Not all playwrights work this way. But the play had been mine for so long. I had to take a step back. It’s the only way I had a chance in hell to ‘see it’ at all in the performances.

Getting feedback is a total act of letting go. I meditate on not having huge expectations and not looking for every Test Reader to validate my work. This is all easier said then done. But when I tested my own YA novel through BookHive, some of the critiques stung, but a lot of it gave me the direction to make the work better. There were also a lot of thumbs up, so I knew what to keep. I’d rather face my fear of someone thinking I’m not oh-so-brilliant than keeping my work safe and for an audience of only one (me).

I’d admire all writers who take the leap to get better. Writing is weird. And amazing. And hard. In that order, scrambled, and all at once, too.

If you’d like to test your novel during our soft launch through BookHive for $100 (normally $499), please visit our website: www.bookhivecorp.com


Written by Jennifer Bowen

Jennifer Bowen hails from a family business of research and has always considered it valuable. After working on her first YA book, she yearned for feedback from teenage readers, and the idea for BookHive and an organized beta reader process was born. As QueenBee of BookHive (more fun than CEO) she has attended the San Francisco Writers Conference, the Boston Book Fair, and The New York Self-Publishing Conference. BookHive was also selected to attend Startup Alley at the Book Expo of America in 2015, as "One of Twenty Startups to Watch."

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