How to overcome the fear of “trial readers”

The greatest fear of all first-time authors out there: to show what they’ve written to someone else. But you have to overcome this fear if you want to publish a book yourself. If you are not new to my blog, you might already know that I gave my story as a summary to others very early on. You are welcome to read more about it in my blog post about the planning phase. But here I want to talk about how to overcome the fear stated above.

When I thought about showing my story to someone for the first time, the following questions came up in my mind:

  • What do the others think about my story?
  • What if they don’t like the story?
  • What if the story is too predictable?
  • What do the others think about me when they read the story?

Do certain questions sound familiar to you? I would like to show you why these questions are simply unnecessary and how you can overcome them.

What do the others think about my story?

Well, isn’t that the reason why you give it to other people to read? It is important to get feedback on your story. Of course it is possible that your trial readers will say that the story is boring or monotonous. But that is exactly the point! So you know where you have room for improvement. Don’t take this as an attack on your writing skills. Every beginning is hard and you can improve by criticism.

For me, too, one catastrophe was too boring and to similar to another one. I did not notice that but my trial readers did. Yes, of course it sucked at that moment because I had to completely rethink a fifth of my story, but in the end I’m glad about it. Who knows, maybe my book will prove itself more than if I had left it like that.

What if they don’t like the story?

There is a very clear answer: not everyone will like your story. It’s the same with every book, movie or even music. It all depends on the taste! A tip, however, is to give your book to someone who also reads books from this genre. I have given my reading sample to women because men usually have no interest in romance novels. So you should think about who you give the reading sample to avoid a total rejection.

A little side note: Choose people who are not afraid to tell you the truth. My trial readers were my family and friends but I knew that I could still count on honest feedback. If you are not sure, choose a neutral person as your trial reader.

What if the story is too predictable?

This question is also the reason why you have to give it to other people to read. Most of the time you as a writer have the feeling that the story is predictable because you know the whole story. That is why a third opinion is even more important.

It was important to me to find an ending that would surprise my readers. That’s why I wrote three different endings and asked my trial readers which one they liked most and was the least predictable. Maybe this would be a solution for you to overcome this fear.

What do the others think about me when they read the story?

Although it doesn’t really matter what other people think about you, this question comes up at some point. So you have to realize that the story does not reflect you at all. After all, you are not a serial killer just because you write a book about this topic.

Since my book was inspired by my experiences, I have given a lot of thought to this question. In the end, however, I had to realize that the story I write is completely different from the experiences in my real life. I was inspired by my au pair year and some experiences, but I still changed the real experiences to fit into the story. If you have managed to create a certain distance between yourself and the story, you should have no more problems with this question.


If you are struggling with other questions or this article didn’t help you completely, let me know! I try to help you. You can contact me directly here.


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