I am finishing my first round of beta reads for my young adult contemporary novel, In A Mirror. I had a lot of thoughts on what I did and did not like in my process, and what aspects I would change.
How I Started…
When my book was as polished as I could make it, I began reaching out to potential beta readers immediately. I emailed writing buddies, posted on forums and Facebook pages, and even put on the call on YouTube and Instagram.
I sent individual emails to those who accepted the challenge. In the email I sent a google doc with their name in the title, so they could give their feedback in comments throughout the manuscript. I decided to give the entire novel to beta readers in one go, thinking this would mean they would read it quick smart.
In the body of the email I listed out what feedback I wanted the betas to provide. Eg, inconsistencies, character development, plot holes, and reactions to plot twists. To see my original email, click here, and adapt your own beta reader instructions to suit your needs.
What I Didn’t Like…
I was nervous when sending out the manuscript, so I sent it out immediately, not giving a due date. It was a big mistake. Not only am I impatient, but the betas also didn’t realise how much I kept checking my email to see if they had started reading.
I didn’t enjoy going through individual comments on the document. It made compiling all the feedback very tedious.
How I Compiled the Feedback…
I created a spreadsheet with columns for each beta reader, and rows for each chapter. Watch this video I created to see the spreadsheet in action.
Even though the exercise was tedious, it was great seeing all the betas feedback on individual chapters laid out in front of me. It gave me a clear view on what the majority viewpoints were, and which comments I could disregard. Some beta readers were so off the mark, that they were written off as outliers,
What I would change about my process…
Next time I would send PDFs of my novel to beta readers. I would send a word document with a questionnaire, which would make compiling feedback much simpler. I would also send only a few chapters at a time in the PDFs. That way I can keep track of where beta readers are up to, and save myself some grief. I go into detail in the video of how I came to this decision.
What I Liked…
I loved reading when my beta readers loved chapters and didn’t want anything changed. It happened four times! I loved when beta readers were in agreement about plot or character inconsistencies. It was also interesting when they each brought up different issues all together.
I loved that most of my betas sent an email after reading with overall thoughts. These emails were much easier to compile, just cut and paste, and gave a great bird’s eye view of my novel. I show how I compiled this information in the video.
Where to Now…
Now, I’m onto a new draft of my novel In A Mirror. I have major issues with the character of Charli, and I have nice list of resolutions to be made on plot lines that disappeared. With me luck!
If you want a copy of my original email to beta readers CLICK HERE.
If you would like to be in the next round of beta reads, please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org