My husband is my first reader. Boy, is he tough. He's all down about back story, character development and plot movement. If he has any questions, his manuscript comes back with red circles all over it. Oh yes, he also tells me what he likes.
My family and friends can be trusted to like every word. Bless them, they help but only if they think they won't hurt my feelings.
My best beta readers are members of one of my two writing groups. They provide the critique necessary for me to figure out what's wrong with what I wrote and how I wrote it. Once I pass this group and edit the heck out of the story one more time, I send the manuscript to my agent. After all, she has to love it as much as I do, or she can't sell it.
So why didn't she love Mad Max 2? After all, my critical beta readers pointed out what had to be fixed. I paid attention. Really I did.
After much angst, I realized that I had done everything I should to make the Mad Max 2 manuscript worthy. Except one thing. I selected the wrong members of my critique group. Each beta reader had already read Mad Max 1. They filled in the gaps in character development, in particular, because THEY KNEW THE CHARACTERS. They knew the difference between Whip and Johnny. They knew about the Great Dames.
But two readers who haven't read Mad Max 1 (shocking, I know, but there are a few people who haven't read the first in the series) were lost in the first twenty pages.
So, what did I learn? My beta readers did what I asked. It's just that I asked the wrong thing. Lesson learned.
Thanks to all beta readers of Mad Max 2 and the readers who bought Mad Max 1. I will make you proud of your support. I promise.
Ciao for now. Off to write. Must write on, right now.