A Beta Reader Is Not An Editor

It seems there is the one or other author around who either don’t know what the job of a beta reader is. Also, some authors don’t want to pay for an editor and therefore try to ‘use’ the beta reader to get the editor’s job done.

From what I learned in my ‘long’ career of two published books (and a few lined up)… my order of ‘writing and publishing’ is the following:

  1.  Drafting
  2.  Copying out
  3.  personal editing #1
  4.  personal editing #2
  5.  professional editing (proofreading)
  6.  filing for copyright
  7.  sending the manuscript out to the beta readers
  8.  having the book cover done
  9.  possible corrections when getting the manuscript back from beta readers
  10.  publishing

At times the corrections, added paragraphs or even pages, demand a second round of proofreading or editing.

Now, what does the beta reader do?

Beta readers are helpful people around you – can be friends, co-workers, family members. They are asked to read the book pre-release. Often they are asked to review the book online, just after release. Most beta readers are very happy to do so in exchange for the book.

Every beta reader works differently. Some return a paper manuscript with scribbles all over the place…, some send an email with a few ideas, suggestions or remarks, some send texts whenever they discover something. When I beta read, I write a list and later send that list by email. So far, I never discovered a huge plot hole, but I found the one or other ‘thing’ that bugged me and that I had to let the author know about. Many other beta readers do the same thing.

There is one thing beta readers don’t do: they don’t correct typos and grammar. That’s what’s the editor is for. I’m not saying they always are perfect, and should I catch a forgotten typo, of course, I will tell the author about it. But I’m not actively looking for them.

I am lucky enough to have a beta reader who is sweet enough to actively look for typos and grammar problems that escaped my editor’s attention. The one or other author might be just as lucky. But generally, beta readers are not here for editing!

They should return your manuscript with a bit more than ‘I liked it.’ You want to get their notes. You want to hear about their feelings… when did they laugh? When did they cry? What scared them or amused them? Did they enjoy the read, and would they recommend the book? According to them, what age range is the book for (if you’re writing Young Adult), and what did they not like so much?

Did they discover something about the plot they didn’t like? Do they have questions about the story, the plot, or the characters? Is there anything they discovered that isn’t right?

Let me give you a couple examples. One of my last beta readers told me that she loves my book, and she finds ‘Sundance’ as a character very interesting. However, she misses Katie, the ‘Soul Taker’ and wishes her back. She is an exceptional beta reader and informed me about several other things that I later corrected. (I did not write more ‘Katie’ into the second book since that is ‘Sundance’s’ story).

When I was beta reading for a male author, I discovered a wardrobe flaw with one of the female character’s ‘undergarments.’ I told my fellow author about it, and he corrected that.

We all were grateful to have our beta readers. It is important to us having people with open minds paying attention to our stories. And we always hope we don’t ask too much.

Thank you, beta readers, for helping us with your time, your efforts, and your honesty. We need you!

 

 

 

A Sick Writer

By now I guess, it’s known that I have been sick for a few weeks, being ‘blessed’ with shingles and pneumonia to the same time. I could have done the one without both, but after all, I’m afraid, I had to take it the way it got me.

Now, being in pain and feeling sick, having a fever and not finding any comfortable position, I wasn’t able to do much more than drinking, resting, sleeping, watching TV and trying to keep my cats away from climbing on me.

And here exactly is the point I start complaining…

I’m a writer. A sick writer. And I would have loved to ‘use’ the time getting some work done. Typing, blogging, scribbling, planning new stories, reading and whatever else belongs to a writer’s life, but I had no chance.

Shingles caused me that much pain that all I could do was trying to find a way to spend the days on the couch with plenty of pain killers inside of me that nearly knocked me out. There was no way I would have been able to sit behind the computer and type much.

I was unable to turn onto my stomach to write by hand on paper. And when I tried to read I started feeling dizzy enough, I was ready to vomit.

I wanted to work, develop ideas, find new characters, plots, storylines, whatever came into my mind, and nothing was possible.

But of course I’m smart, right? I got my phone next to me. And whenever I had an idea, I recorded it. What a wonderful girl I am! The idea would have been amazing, if…

… yes, there’s an ‘if’…

… if, I hadn’t been too sick to make sense.

Yes, you can laugh. I did too once I listened to my ‘notes’. I was sick enough that I couldn’t hear much more than some mumbling. And if there was a clear word or two, it didn’t make sense.

My fever was high enough to cook my brain, which means, the ideas I got are entirely useless. This is annoying and nearly make me consider getting either a secretary, a nurse – or both.

I’m almost sure I’m not the only writer ever being sick. How are you doing this? Are you able to use your time fruitfully during this forced break? If yes, how are you doing it? Thank you for your advice!

Picture courtesy of wikimedia

Can A Writer Have Too Many Ideas?

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Picture courtesy of http://www.google.com

 


 

I’m in fact a little curious how other writers are doing this…

Do you ever feel like your head is bursting with all the ideas you got? How do you sort them out? How do you arrange them?

 

Let’s say: you get an idea:

·    where do you go with it?

·    how do you know what to do with it?

·    where do you start with it?

·    do you file it? And if yes, where?

·    do you park it until you need it or are ready to write the story?

 

At times I feel like my head is exploding, having so many ideas while at other days my brain just goes blank. But once I get these ideas, what am I doing with them? I do have a file on my computer, named “ideas.” Occasionally I go back to find out if they’re useful at that moment. And so many times I realized, that I’ve got no clue what I wanted with that idea or where to go from there. It can be annoying.

Right now I’m working on a series of novellas and novels… the first book of the series is completed and with the editor now. So is the third one.

I’m still writing the second one… but since the first and second’s character’s are “overlapping” I need to work very carefully on that second book to not make plot mistakes I don’t want to expect my future readers to put up with.

I admit, my thoughts, my idea developing and my research circle mainly around this particular series.

When I lately needed a break from working on my second book, I found myself having a brainwave. And instead of “parking” the idea in my particular file, I decided instead to start on the fourth book of the series. I have huge plans for that book, considering I briefly introduced a few of this particular’s story’s characters to my readers of this blog.

To my great astonishment, I found myself writing like crazy on that fourth book. I’m enthusiastic since it seems I only have to put pen to paper and it writes nearly by itself.

Until a few weeks ago when I discovered a new major character of the series I repeated what I did before and quickly decided not to “park” the idea until I get there, but just start the fifth book of the series.

Here I am now, at the same time working on the second, the fourth and the fifth book of the series.

I was asking myself: am I getting into conflicts? What will happen if I can’t ‘switch’ quickly enough and start making mistakes? But so far I’m good, I know exactly which character belongs where and what my plans with them are.

And still: There is this one question: Did I have too many ideas at the same time? Can I continue like this? How are other writers handling this kind of “idea attack”?

Do you ever feel like having “too many ideas”? Are you writing on one and one book or story? Am I doing something wrong?  Please, help me out, I’d be grateful for your opinion.


Picture courtesy of www.pinterest.com
Picture courtesy of http://www.pinterest.com