Well, I was feeling pretty good about myself for a while. Then I got Beta Readers! All jokes aside I have finally shared my writing with others and wanted to take some time to gather my initial thoughts about the process.
What are Beta Readers?
If your like me and your completely new to this writing process then you may have never heard of the term “Beta Reader” A beta reader or first reader, is someone you provide your writing to for feedback. I have learned through my own research there isn’t any hard and fast rules about who to ask, or how it should be done. There are also many different ideas as far as how many people to provide your work to. All I can share is my own decisions and how things are going so far.
I decided on three beta readers, I had asked for some feedback via twitter and someone posted that they recommend three people. By having three I knew that I could determine if there was a trend in the feedback I received. For instance, if I heard the same thing from two or more beta readers then it was likely an area that I needed to work on. But if it was only one person’s opinion then I needed to decide if it was worth changing or not. Since I am writing a series of romance books there are things I know are coming in future books that my readers may not know. The hard part about writing a series is trying to figure out if it’s something they need in book one or something that can wait. For me, this was one of the main reason’s I was hoping to find beta readers.
Who I chose…
I made a couple decisions early on. I didn’t want to pay for beta readers so I decided to spread the word that I was looking for some people to read for me. I have one friend who is a reader of all things and decided to see if she was interested. Honestly, it came up in a conversation and I just threw it out there. To my surprise she not only agreed but was excited to see what I had written. I also have a friend who is a author of fantasy and she connected me with a romance reader who is also a writer and was interested in helping me out. Lastly, I am part of a writing group and one of the members asked if I would like her to read as a critique partner. Critique Partners known as CP’s offer detailed feedback but normally read as you go. My situation is a bit different because my book was completed.
Feedback is tough. I try my best to always look at feedback as a gift but it can be hard sometimes. When it comes to my writing I have become very attached to my characters and my work. When I think back over the years I can say I have spent more time with them then I expected. I now have 6 books at different stages of completion and focusing to get the first book ready to publish has been very difficult. When I my book at a point where I felt it was as good as I could get it I sent it out into the world.
I have received general feedback and very specific feedback and in truth it has all been extremely helpful. Now, I have to do something with it. I will say my friend who loves to read provided general feedback that was very encouraging. She loved the story and plowed through the entire book in three days. Since she is my ideal audience I am trying to keep that in mind as I review the feedback from my other betas who are writers. Here’s the thing, every little bit of advice I have received has been a blessing! I decided not to hire and editor but it’s very important to me that my book looks and feels as professional as possible.
Some Common Feedback
Three people seems to be the sweet spot for me. I did receive common feedback about my hero that warrants some rewriting. I want him to be liked however, the way he is portrayed in the beginning of the book has made my readers think he’s either mean or a stalker. Which both made me laugh, knowing what I know about him. This was a big learning point for me. What I know about my characters isn’t the same as what my readers know about them. It’s going to take me sometime to make these changes. Now I need to determine if it makes sense to try and push for my original release date or not. Another thing I need to work on is showing not telling. If you are a writer of anything then you have probably heard this before. Since it is still something I’m working on I can’t provide much advice here. Maybe someday.
These are tough decisions but I know in the end I want to be 100% certain that my first book is what I always hoped it would be. After my first round of feedback I don’t feel it’s ready and I can’t help but feel a bit discouraged but I need to get over myself and move forward.
If you have had experience with Beta Readers I would love to hear how it went, comment below and let me know!