Saturday, November 5, 2011

When Your Beta Readers Sing.

Abundance and Blessings.

That's what comes to mind when I think of beta readers.  When I started this writing journey I made every first time writer snafu.

Send off first draft to entirely inappropriate publisher. Check.
Send off second draft to entirely inappropriate agent. Check
Send out queries before I knew what the hell I was doing.  Check.

But then, I discovered Verla Kay's Blue Boards.  I read.  I lurked.  I finally joined in the party.

And my world changed.

I scoured posts.  Went to a conference.  Got craft books.  Honed my natural love for writing.  Found a great class with Joy Neaves of the Great Smokies Writer's Program through UNC-Asheville.  Rewrote an old manuscript.  Rewrote a slightly newer manuscript.  Got brave and started swapping with fellow BB'ers.  Joined a crit group.

To this day, and I'm not sure she's even aware how much she helped me, I'm indebted to Angela Ackerman at The Bookshelf Muse.  She gave me a scathing critique of a seriously flawed chapter book.  But what did I know?  My aunt loved it.  That painful critique kicked me in the rear.  Luckily, I didn't get all wounded by it.  I took it as a challenge to improve.

I wrote two more manuscripts - each a little better than the one before.  And I started acquiring readers.

Now with my fifth manuscript - I'm hoping I have a winner.  And those abundant blessings I call beta readers - they seem to think so, too.

Folks - Beta Readers are golden.  If you want a good relationship with a fellow writer, be honest.  Remember to highlight writing strengths as well as places to improve.  Be timely.  Communicate.  And be thankful.  Thankful for the community with other people who build words and create stories.  Thankful for readers who suddenly have a relationship with your characters.  And thankful that there are people in the world who want you to succeed.

Thank you (you know who you are :0))


  1. Haha! I think you HAVE to make those mistakes to call yourself a real writer! I know I sure made them. But I'm a quick learner and won't make them again on my second novel, which I am just starting. Good post!

  2. I haven't given up hope on any of my manuscripts. One of the four (before the five) is one snagged my agent but he feels like the fifth is a better "out of the gate" story.

    I have always tended to do things the hard way a bit, though! Good luck with novel 2.

  3. Sounds like you've come a long way! Look at you now represented by a fabulous agent and all:) Think of where you may be a year from now.

    Beta's are the best!

  4. This so true. I think I'd have given up long ago without my crit partners to show me what I need to work on. BTW, Angela is awesome. I've benefitted from her constructive criticism too!


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