The good news is that Tower of Bones is in the process of being printed! Forbidden Road has made it through the first draft and is now at the Beta stage, so feedback will be coming soon! Then the rewrite will begin. This stage is sometimes the hardest to begin. After all, I have finished the book! I love the characters and the story, so what could I possibly want to change? Sadly, there will be many things that I am attached to that a reader will find annoying or boring. This is the first step to making a book that someone else will want to read. As an indie author, I am fortunate in that I have a publishing company made up of other indie authors, and we do this for each other.
So what does a Beta Reader actually do? We have rules of the road for Beta Reading. Every author knows that the first draft is very rough. It is the raw book as it flew out of the writer’s mind! We don’t check for grammar or do line edits in a beta read. Instead we ask these questions:
- Were you ever bored? If so, at what point? (Please be as detailed as possible)
- What did you think of the main character?
- Of supporting characters?
- Was there anything you didn’t understand?
- Is there any section you had to read twice?
- At any point did you become confused?
- Was there anything you did not believe?
- Was there anything you were left wondering about?
- Any comments?
We also are very clear on what we liked and what we would like to see more of.
I don’t dump the whole MS on a beta reader, I give out a chapter from each section of the book. As authors, we have habits that will follow us through the entire manuscript and once it is pointed out we can do a ‘control-F’ search and remove or change that.
After the second write I will have my sister Sherrie and and my friend Jean read the whole book and tell me how it reads. They are authorized to be honest, and believe me they will be! This is also the time when I get antsy, thinking that ‘the book is done, let’s get on with it for heaven’s sake!’ Big mistake. This is where patience is crucial. In the past, I have rushed out and put the ms up as an e-book thinking it was done.
Bad mistake. Once in kindle form the flaws were immediately apparent, and I was quite embarrassed. But that was a good thing, because we took the book down and gave it a complete re-write and a deep edit by Danielle Raver, followed by another edit by Alison DeLuca. A new cover by the wonderful Ceri Clark and a title that addressed the story more clearly made a huge difference. Now Tower of Bones really IS the book that I always wanted it to be.
Now, with all that experience behind me, I know what NOT to do! This is why I am going slowly with Forbidden Road, making sure that all the flaws that were built into it in the first draft are going to be addressed. This is how we grow as writers. The experiences that we have with each novel and story mold us and shape our next novel. As I read the works of other authors, and go follow them from their first published work to their most recent work I can see that pattern of growth. Sometimes it is for the better, and sometimes not so much, but growth as a writer happens.
With each book that I write I want to tell a new story, something that will entertain the reader and divert them for a while. The invaluable work of the Beta-Reader on the first draft is the first step toward making that happen. Now I will be patient, and wait for their input. Will they like it? Does it suck?
Only the Beta-Reader knows for sure…