Have you ever noticed how many similarities are between searching for a beta reader, searching for a job, or querying an agent for your book? Well, I think they are many.
Before I go on, a disclaimer: this article is based on my observation and what I learned both from my journey and watching the journey of fellow blogging writers. I may not be the same for everyone.
The right time and place
You might be a graduate from a prestigious university but if no company in your field has a job opening at that specific time and location, you can only suck it up and either wait or look further than you’d like.
Likewise, if you’re querying agents, it might happen that they’ll reject you for the simple reason that their schedule is filled to the brim. And in case of beta readers, who often do so in their own free time, the aspect of time is even more crucial.
And genre preferences of agents/betas is pretty much equal to your specialization in your studies.
Querying an agent, based on what I’ve read (because I am not pursuing that route myself so feel free to correct me) is very close to the same process as sending a job application – the blurb and specification of your book (genre, length, target audience, etc.) is analoguous to your CV and you have to send a cover letter to catch the HR/agent’s attention and make them believe they want to give you their precious time.
In the present time, with more people than ever giving writing a try, it’s very likely that there’s more deman than supply – and that comes to beta readers as well. Writing in the reader’s genre won’t be enough – they can choose from a lot of books and you need to get their attention so they give your book a chance – and hope it matches their taste. At this point, the opening of your book is probably the most crucial part.
The unbearable waiting
It’s not just that writing a cover letter is something I despise (because I am not someone who’d enjoy the idea of being put on a display – which this pretty much is) – but the periods of waiting are the worst. You have to wait and see if they’ll give you a chance after reading your application – and then hope you will get any answer at all. Believe me, even negative answer is better than no answer at all and the fact you know you can consider no answer a ‘no’ after a period of time doesn’t make it better – if you spend time to write a cover letter, why can’t they do the same to send you a message about your rejection?
One step into silence
If I was to say more on the topic of silent rejection… when it comes to job hunting, it’s more byproduct of the time. I believe the reason why most of the rejections are worded in something like ‘a better candidate was chosen’ is to avoid saying something potentially offensive because some people might be very easy to offend and the last thing a HR person wants is to argue with such a person – but the lack of feedback is not helpful to the applicants.
When it comes to beta readers… I had a few of them read the prologue first and let it see if they want to go on – and it’s hard to understand what’s so hard for some people to write a single sentence the likes of ‘sorry, it doesn’t seem to match my tastes’ which can’t take too long to write.
A source of doubts
For someone like me, rejection is a shortcut to doubts. Now, I have always been a poor judge of myself and easy to slide to doubts but rejections – especially the silent ones – are the easiest fuel for them. Without any feedback, I can’t know if I was a poor judge of my skills, someone was simply better, I did not meet all/enough of the criteria, or they just didn’t like something about me (or my story, in case of books).
Not a winner yet…
And even being accepted is not a real victory yet. Just as a reader can decide to quit your story – especially if there’s a theme they don’t like or the opening is too different for their taste (too slow is a real risk), you need to first survive the trial period in a new job (in my country, the law states it at three months with exceptions for some special jobs with a longer training).
And while passing the trial period in a new job can be seen as finally crossing the finish line, it’s not that simple with a book – until the agent or beta reads the ‘the end’, the risk of your story being abandoned is still there.
Those are the similarities I’ve found – and I’ll welcome your thoughts? Is there something you discagree with? Something you’d like to share from your experience? Something I understood incorrectly? Feel free to share your thoughts!
Until then, good luck and have fun.