Beta Readers are so important! Some tips for working with them… #Readers #beta-readers #writing #writers #book

6 Tips for Using Beta Readers

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.

6 Tips for Using Beta Readers.

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.


Finding Eloise – A tip for understanding your character more deeply #writer #writing #book #character #image #tip

F3 Eloise - A_Woman_doing_Laundry_by_Henry_Robert_Morland

Writing a main character who is so different from all my other heroines – indeed so different to anyone’s heroines – has been a challenge. But fortunately I have had some help.

I have been writing about Eloise for nearly a year. My first descriptions of her were vague, perhaps a bit 2D (sallow, plain, flat-chested – a deliberate ‘antiheroine’). And then I discovered this painting – and that was her. Superficially (colouring/figure) she wasn’t much like the description I had already written, but in terms of her personality, she seemed perfect. So of course I then had to go back and change her description – but that was fine as it only improved the book. She could still be an antiheroine – but it was her unconventional personality and life decisions that made her so.

Once I had the painting, I understood so much more about her character. She is saucy and knowing, and although not strictly beautiful, she knows how to make the most of her attributes. And she will stop at nothing to get what she wants (although she is clever enough to hide her most of her manipulations). I am sure you love her already (slight sarcasm) … I am certainly enjoying the challenge of working with a character who is basically not very likable – the fun bit is bringing out her good points to balance the bad, and seeing if she can at least partly redeem herself.

I’m getting really close to finishing the first draft of ‘The Secret Life of Eloise’ and I couldn’t have done it without this WikiCommons painting. (very grateful to all who contribute to this great resource for historical novelists).

I’m thinking about using this painting on her front cover as well – I will provide a sneak peek when the design is finished. I’m hoping the ‘The Secret Life of Eloise’ will be out by November 2015 (with the two earlier books in the series out in July and September).

Community and social media – the importance of becoming authentically engaged #writers #writing #social media #engaged #community

The importance of finding and belonging to a community of writers is explored in this post by Jane Friedman. It makes some really good points about building relationships and adding value to any community you join, especially through social media.

Take home message for me : you can’t expect people to know you and help you if you haven’t spent time getting to know them and connecting with them online.

Why do we need to worry about structure when we write? #structure #planning #writing #writers #hints


If you think structure is the boring bit of writing and you can away without worrying about it – think again.

Kristen Lamb has some great tips and insights in this blogpost. When you are developing your novel, think about the scenes (Goal –> Conflict –> Disaster) and the emotional sequel to each scene, then connect them together. Check out Kristen’s post here

Encouraging the right people to review your book (and avoiding some of the pitfalls) #writers #writing #authors #book #review

five star download

So you’ve published your book – you love it – but what about everyone else? How do you find people to give you a review, and what should you watch out for?

In my case, I’ve only just started indie publishing in the last few months, and I’m stepping warily into to the realm of promoting my books and finding the readers I’ve been writing for. It’s hard when you’re an unknown author to build credibility and find a market, and I’m hoping to avoid some of the pitfalls. Insights such as those in this great (blisteringly honest) blogpost by Terry Tyler are a great help.

I have never been good at blowing my own trumpet, so I haven’t solicited any reviews yet (nor do I intend to). However, I would love to get some constructive feedback on my writing, and to find ways to create the best stories I can. I looked first at goodreads as that is where many readers gather. And through the blogosphere I’m trying to find people who write and read in my genre (contemporary and historical sexy romance). I know it will take a while, but at least I know that I have done my best to achieve a professional product (through beta-readers and professional editing). With any luck, readers looking for a good read in my genre will enjoy the fresh viewpoint and not wish to ‘abandon it’. Here’s hoping my books will get the reviews they deserve (and ones that will help me to find ways to improve).

Having said that, it is worth being wary of reviewers or beta readers who just want something different. One of my first beta-readers got back to me with comments like, don’t like the name you used for the heroine, the hero, the villain and the book – all too common… I looked into it, and couldn’t find the evidence to back up her assertions. Turns out Cara, Cameron and Raoul are not all that common in romances. So while it is important to consider all feedback, some may need to be taken with a pinch of salt. Everyone has their own opinion, and no one person will ever be completely right.