Probably one of the hardest things of all is the first time you share your toiled-over manuscript with beta-readers. Will they like it? Won’t they? Will their feedback make you wither inside and wonder whether months of your life have just been wasted? Will they find the story as engrossing as you have? – Find the characters engaging?, etc. etc.
It is hard to take that step but certainly rewarding. If you seek a range of opinions from the perspective of readers (preferably people who enjoy the genre) then you will learn so much more about your work. And once you have processed their advice, then your book will surely benefit. The trick is knowing what to run with and what to leave out. Your book cannot be everything to everyone, and in the end only you can make a final call on what will work. But pay attention to a variety of perspectives, because no one person (ie. you) will have all the answers.
This article reminded me that I should work harder to give my beta-readers good information about some of the things I want to check about the book. Do the characters make sense, or are they confusing? Is there the right amount of back-story, are motivations clear? Who do they sympathize with? What seems real, and what seems odd? There are so many questions the writer can ask. The important thing is to decide what you would like to know before you hand over that book. And make sure you seek a range of perspectives.
I truly value feedback from my beta-readers – I know it has helped to make my books better. There are some things I can’t change – like the fact that I do not have much humour in my writing. I’m afraid if people prefer funny books, then they should try other authors. Because humour is not my forte, and forced humour is just painful. I know my strengths, so I will try to play to them. I love story-telling – taking people with me on an emotional journey. So things like adding more dialog for certain scenes, clarifying events in others. That is easy. So thanks you to those who have read and provided feedback on my first four books. It helped me to gain confidence and certainly improved each of the stories in different ways. And as for my new series of historical romances, the journey for them is just beginning.
If anyone is interested in historical romance (sexy) and would like to join my small band of valued beta-readers, I would be happy to hear from you. Free copies provided! Thanks
My current series The French Connection follows the lives of a French Comte and his associates as they escape the French Revolution. “Isabel’s Choice is nearly ready for publication, and ‘Temptation’ will shortly be returned by the editor.