writing

Adventures in Beta Reading

Hello again readers and writers, I’ve been away from the blog for a while because it’s my last semester as an undergrad and my focus needs to be with school right now, but also I’ve taken up the commitment of being a beta reader!

Beta readers are readers who give you feedback on your novel before you publish it so you can make sure readers are reacting to it as intended.

Why beta read if I should be focusing on my novel? Well once I finish my first few drafts, I’m going to send it out to beta readers, and I figured, what better way to learn about the process than to become one myself?

I’ve definitely learned a lot from this experience, and I’ll definitely have more sympathy towards my future betas as a result.

Here’s what I’ve learned:

•Make sure you only choose betas who like the genre you are writing in

If a beta reader doesn’t like what they’re reading, it’s going to be a slow and grueling process to read your material, and even more so to answer questions about it. Make sure your betas are invested when selecting!

•Busy schedules don’t make for good betas

I fall into this category. I’m not always the best beta reader because my weeks are always hectic, and I often don’t feel like answering questions in my free time because it feels like work. Make sure your betas have open enough schedules to commit to this- beta reading is more work than just reading.

•Keep your questions concise and clear

After a beta finishes a chapter, authors have questions prepared for them to answer. Make sure these allow for the beta to write a lot of feedback, but don’t give them super long questions or too many! This will make them stress and not look forward to reading the next chapter and doing it all over again. Ask what you need to know, no more.

•Make sure you expectations are clear

Whether it’s time limits to read, or how you want them to answer questions, make sure the expectations you give are clear. A lot of people don’t know what beta reading entails. ESPECIALLY make clear that you want them to be completely honest. If they didn’t like the chapter, it’s far more harmful for you to lie about it than to just tell the truth. You are giving the writer an opportunity to correct their mistakes, which is what they wanted you for!

 

Overall I have enjoyed beta reading, but I can appreciate the amount of work it is now and hopefully this will help me to create a better relationship with my future betas.

 

If you are interested in beta reading an adventure historical fiction about a gang of female pirates, let me know in the comments! It’ll be a while before it’s ready, but I’d love to know if some of you have interest.

Happy writing!

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My Editing Process (Why I can’t just write a first draft)

Every author has a very different editing process. The method I’ve been hearing the most popularity from is the ‘write it all in one go method’ then suffer through an incredibly long editing process.

Ha. No.

That method is not for me, although being nitpicky really slows you down and can often keep you from continuing your novel, I’ve finally gotten down a method that works for me.

What I do:

  1. Write a chapter
  2. reread chapter and make edits in two separate sittings
  3. Send out chapter to a few writer buddies to peer review while you write the next chapter
  4. Read their feedback and make changes accordingly
  5. Rinse and repeat

This way, you don’t have a first draft by the end of your book, but a more polished third or fourth draft. Will it need more editing? HELL YES! But those edits will be way less daunting. I really enjoy this process because when I reread chapters they are often not as bad as I thought when I was writing them, and getting and implementing feedback gives me the confidence to keep going.

Once you do have a whole manuscript the more substantial edits take place: are there any plot holes? Are some sections or even chapters unnecessary? How can you beef up those verbs, descriptions and dialogue?

After running through the manuscript a couple times with this in mind, it’s time for Beta reviews! Unlike writer buddies, Betas don’t tell you how to improve your writing, but review each chapter as a reader. What do they think of the characters? What was their reaction to XYZ? Is anything unclear or overexplained? That’s the job of betas, to make sure it’s all good for your target audience and that the book is enjoyable. You can also do additional peer reviews during this stage or before if necessary.

After Betas it’s time to send it off to a professional editor. As I have no personal experience with this I’ll refrain from giving advice until I get to that stage.

 

Hope all you writers find methods that work for you and don’t pull your hair out with editing!