Asking for Reader Feedback: Scary but Awesome

Last year I joined a writers’ group called The Inkonceivables (I know, right? Adorbz!) with authors Nathan Fréchette, Marjo Lafrenière, Éric Desmarais, S.M. Carrière, and Jamieson Wolf. Confession: I really, really, really, times infinity did not want to ever be apart of one. Probably because of previously witnessing writers’ groups whose members spoke as if fatally absorbed in their own importance, posturing like peacocks.

Thankfully, I took the plunge and I simply love this group. The Inkonceivables are authors who share their works-in-progress (WIP), such as, short stories, poems, and novels. It’s kinda cool. We do a Google Hangout each week, which is great for my spoonie lifestyle, and I just sit back and listen to these amazing pieces. Whenever it’s my time to share, I confess my heart goes into full throttle as if I’m on stage again. Yeah, I get performance nerves!


What’s neat is that after we share our stories, we give the author our notes. Sometimes they are things like repetition or a redefinition of a word, but mostly it’s encouragement. We get to ask questions to the author, too, and I love that.

Because I am a straight, cis woman who writes queer characters (and who’s  been affectionately dubbed “the token cishet”), having a group of queer authors listen to my work is worth its weight in gold. I particularly value their opinions when it comes to The Stealth Lovers, my military space opera about Xax and Viv. I’ve received wonderful feedback about this story so far. When my buddy Jamieson Wolf kept saying, “Hon, you write gay men right,” I felt relieved and thrilled. I want a queer audience to cheer, laugh, and cry with Xax and Viv. I don’t want readers to scream, “BURN IT! BURN IT NOW!!!”

Occasionally getting reader feedback can be hysterical. I accidentally wrote in a short story something about eyeballs that they can’t physically do. One author pointed it out and another said, “But they’re aliens. Maybe their eyes can do that!” We all had a good chuckle at that one.

I think my initial NOPE about joining a writers’ group was because I felt terrified of being so much less than the other authors, thinking they’d trash my WIP to pieces. Instead, not only has the feedback proved invaluable, but also I get to listen to the writing of other authors, sharing in their journey as they develop their books. And we’re multi-genre, so my horizons broaden even more in this environment.

And you know what? Every single author in the group can feel nervous about sharing. Ah, authors, we’re so fantastically vulnerable.

I always knew that beta readers are important once I have a draft that’s ready for review, but now I understand that fellow authors who provide notes on whatever I’m ready to share are also vital to my writing process. We provide support to each other as we’re in the trenches, trying to write words good.

So, a big thanks to Nathan Fréchette for nudging me to join The Inkonceivables. I think I owe you my entire writing career at this point, plus thousands of dollars worth of psychotherapy.

Can’t wait for next week! My bff Talia “The Brain” Johnson is joining us. (What could possibly go wrong?) 😉

Cait Gordon

Cait Gordon is the author of Life in the ’Cosm, a story about a little green guy who’s crushing on the female half of his two-headed colleague. Cait is currently working on a prequel to ’Cosm called The Stealth Lovers, a rom-com military space opera. When she’s not writing, she’s editing manuscripts for indie authors and running The Spoonie Authors Network, a blog whose contributors are writers with disabilities and/or chronic conditions. She also really likes cake.