14 thoughts on “Beta Testing”

  1. The most useful advice I ever received was when I got nailed for head hopping. While hearing that in itself wasn’t painful (she was right I needed to clear up my POV issues), making the extensive changes was arduous. But, once I got rolling, it was a lot of fun. It also proved to me that I could make my book better and I could handle the feedback. I chalk it up to a very valuable learning experience.

  2. I know from personal experience that being told that you have to make tons of changes to your baby is painful but ultimately you have to follow your gut and do what you think will make your book the best.

  3. Great writeup on Beta Readers and straight to the point! I’d like to know more about acquiring Beta Readers and how to become Indie Publishing. Lauren from CTRWA

    1. Hi, Lauren. I’m stepping in for J since she’s out selling books today. Some of our CTRWA members are talking about indie publishing during the bonus session at the October 8 meeting. If you can make it, I’m sure many of your questions will be answered. As for beta readers, it’s useful to have two different kinds: at least one who reads and enjoys the genre in which you are writing (a reader, not a writer); and at least one who understands something of story crafting (a writer) and can help you find plot holes or inconsistencies, where your characters’ motivations are unclear, and where you are doing excessive telling rather than showing. It can be tough to find just the right people, but once you do you will come to rely on them. Good luck!

    1. But your hero was lying for a really good reason, right? Like to protect somebody else? Personally, I don’t want to have to work too, too hard to understand a plot, but I like it to do some twisting and turning!

  4. I don’t enter a lot of contests but I did, several years ago, enter one with the 1st 20 pages of my WIP (at the time). Three judges savagely torn up my baby for POV. Only one actually took the time to give me an example or two. From her feedback I did some research on this POV thingy and finally figured it out. Now I’m the POV purist.

    For a couple of months last year, Jessica Andersen took the time to read my current WIP and with her feedback I had to completely rethink my plot and do a rewrite. I’m not going to say it wasn’t painful but I will tell you I took it to heart and rewrote and now have a MUCH better WIP. You’re absolutely right, J. Find someone you trust and listen to what they’re saying. But in the end, it’s up to YOU whether you make the changes. Trust your gut — just don’t trust it blindly.
    Kathye

    1. I did some mental head-slapping when I finally figured out POV. How lucky you were to have Jess look at your work. And yes, as we say here at the Scribes, you are the Author Goddess. Take what you agree with from your critiques, and leave the rest.

  5. Nice write up J. I think Beta Readers are important. I know Steven King uses them, but I think he calls them Ideal Readers. He uses his wife and two very close friends. I would have to say that concept works well for him, wouldn’t you agree? I’m getting ready to finish up something I’m working on and have someone (a published author) read it too. Fingers crossed.

  6. I agree J. Beta readers are an essential part of the writer’s process. I use my yoga buddies who are all avid readers and most of whom work as teachers, school psychologists and editors. They are great about catching me on typos (CU-V…um…don’t you mean CR-V?), and “the section where you wrote about her chakras didn’t work for me”. Point taken and section re-written. I love those obvious and easy fixes.

    “You have too many subplots and you have to remove them.” That was much harder. I found I couldn’t remove any of my subplots in ON THIN ICE without changing the character arc, the protagonist’s motivation or the story ending. So I’ve dug my heels in (despite several people–including published authors–telling me the same thing), in hopes that my readers will have no qualms about a more complex story line than is the norm for YA. One of the things I like about SP is that you don’t have to fit your story into a pre-conceived package. The idea that “this is the way it’s done because it’s always been done this way” goes against my grain.

    Knowing the rules and then breaking them judiciously works much better for me. How do you think Nora Roberts gets away with head hopping? She has mastered the art of doing it well and she had such an avid following that her readers decided to keep reading even though she wasn’t following the usual rules of POV. They learned to accept the difference and even applaud it. Not that I should even put myself in the same sentence as NR, but I like to think that just because it’s different doesn’t make it wrong. Now if five people said, “the writing sucks–don’t quit your day job,” I’d have to re-think this whole publishing thing.

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