Beta Readers Rock My World!

beta-reader

I’ve been checking up on the blogs I follow closely, but I haven’t been doing much blogging myself. My world had been consumed by beta reads and edits. It’s not really a chore. It’s rather fun to see how the variety in readers is represented through their fresh visions of my work.

After a year and a half, I received my first one star review on “Red Clay and Roses” yesterday.

It was really simple. Ten words. But that was all they really needed to say and guess what?

I get it! And I sincerely appreciated this:

“Story was too segmented and I felt a little confusing.”

I have admitted from the get-go that that this book is different. It was not written by a standard formulaic novel template. There is an Introduction, Part One, Part Two and a Conclusion that are all unique in writing style, POV, and person. Most people are going to be able to go with it and some not. That’s okay.

I’m, of course, disappointed that I let a reader down so badly that they felt a one star was necessary. We always are. That’s a sad note.

What am I doing about it this time that’s different?

Beta Readers!

I learned about beta readers from my blogging friend authors and I have to tell you they are invaluable. You get to learn so much from a cross-section of the population that isn’t family who are invested in you emotionally.

I started out with nine and worked through five readers notes, so far It’s been a wonderful experience. Here’s some questions being answered:

  • Are you satisfied with the plot and characters?
  • Were there points you could really relate to personally?
  • Were there points you couldn’t relate to?
  • What did you enjoy most?
  • At what points did you feel frustrated? Why?
  • Do you feel satisfied with the last act?
  • Can you summarize the book in a few sentences? How did the book make you feel after?

These are all things your family is going to struggle with, but good beta readers shoot from the hip and tell you like it is. One of the nicest things about beta reading is that you get to go back and forth with the reader to discuss the book without any fear of ruining it for others with spoilers.

I don’t have any grandiose delusions that I can pump out a novel that is going to be perfect on the first or second draft, or even on the fifth draft. Truth is: readers all have their own life experiences and knowledge base. Some are highly skilled and talented when it comes to writing and some are novice writers who simply enjoy a good read. I love you all!

We need to hear from all of you before we try to market to the world at large. That’s why I am glad that I have more than a couple of betas.

“Naked Alliances” is a much better product today than it was back on June 8th, when I completed the first draft, and I could not have done it without you!

I am eternally grateful for the help I have had so far and look forward to the feedback from the next four.

Do you use beta readers?

What’s your experience with later drafts and editing?  

Have you ever read a draft for someone who hasn’t yet published?

Share you experiences. 

27 thoughts on “Beta Readers Rock My World!

  1. Beta readers are incredible. They can point up the flaws, and (in the case of a few who walk on water) even point the way to the fixes. But at the end of the day, you won’t use all their suggestions. Some will disagree with each other or just not feel right. My rule of thumb is that if multiple readers are pointing to a problem, then that’s something I need to address. If only one sees it, then that’s something I have to decide about.

    But beta readers should have a particularly wonderful place in heaven reserved for them.

  2. I have a couple of readers, but I wouldn’t classify them as beta readers. We haven’t made that understanding into an agreement. One loved Will ‘O the Wisp. The other one is in my critique group and I’m pretty sure he’ll offer some feedback. As I move into phase two, I’ll probably follow your lead and ask for some betas on my blog. I think a few of my regulars are pretty savvy writers.

    • You know, here’s the interesting thing. General population is not made up of writers. Sure, some of my best beta readers are, but the others who aren’t are just as significant, or more so. Especially when they enjoy the genre and are familiar with its nuances.

    • Thanks for sharing Carrie. I was thinking of having an bona fide editor take a look at this once my betas and me are done.

      The manuscript is pretty clean now, but I’m feeling like I may have some info here that is pertinent to the series but not so much the plot of this book. I’m wondering if that works. I don’t read many series. I may need some content editing to feel most comfortable.

  3. Sounds like a good experience on beta readers. As for the one star I could not agree less with you on letting a reader down. Maybe the person just likes a certain kind of book and there would be no way you let them down.

    • All my betas have given me excellent feedback. Some things I can tell are simply the specific reader’s quirks or peeves, and some things were common themes. That’s why I feel it is good to have more than a couple.

      It’s a jolt when you see a one or two star, but it’s fine with me if they nicely state why. I have read some nasty one star comments on other author’s books and I think some people just try to be mean. Exponentially speaking, the more readers the more likely it is to occur.

  4. Susan, I left you a message on FB, but if you’re anything like me you probably won’t get to for a while. I was wondering if you’d be interested in doing a blog hop? It’s for Sisters In Crime, but you don’t have to be a member to participate. I’m writing my post now and wanted to know if you’d mind if I passed the torch to you? It’s great exposure, as the Sisters In Crime will feature the posts on their site and to all members, as well as retweet about it. If you need more details you get email me at: suecoletta@crimewriterblog.com

    • I would love to Sue! I have been looking at joining that writer’s organization for some time. I saw on their website that they hold some great “Hands-on” conferences, and are really supportive to one another. I’ll shoot you an email later today 🙂 Or you can send info you have to sknicholls1@gmail.com

    • I’m thinking of holding off publishing this first book until I have two or three more done. That could take a couple of years. Hopefully, by then I’ll have more people interested in the series. I hope it’s not a mistake to wait. Getting some people to read now might mean less interest later when I need real book reviews. Time will tell.

  5. Those are great questions for your beta readers. I’ve been a beta reader for only a couple of novels and in both cases the feedback the author wanted was pretty general. I think sometimes an author doesn’t really know what to ask from a reader, beta or otherwise. But the questions you list are basically the ones running through my head when I read anything. As for the one-star review: sure, not every single person is going to be on board with the structure of your book BUT I don’t think that justifies one star. It’s fair to say he/she was confused, but I think in light of the other reviews, I would have asked myself if it’s just a case of a bad fit between writer and reader. That said, you have a great attitude about it.

    • Thanks Marie. I laughed it off pretty early on. I thought it was funny that the reader was only a “little” confused, God help me if they had been a lot confused. It was enough said without being rude or anything. I’ve seen worse three star reviews. ha!

      I absolutely adore my beta readers,! They have given me feedback that has helped me flesh out the book and tidy it up tremendously. I feel like I should cut them in on royalties, if I ever get that far with it. I want three or four in the series completed before I publish the first one. I want to make certain the series stays on track.

      • Sounds like a great plan, Susan, to have three or four done before you start publishing. If I ever publish my widows’ series, I would do the same. I may as well since I have rough drafts of four novels 🙂

        • That’s the plan. I would love to read your books. It is a grand premise that I think would go over big. I noticed in Sisters in Crime, they have everything represented from hard-boiled, to quaint cozy.

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