After my first round of developmental edits and revisions, I was ready to receive beta-reader feedback for Love Letters to My Body. I wanted to make the task as easy as possible for me and my readers.
First, I identified what my ideal readers looked like. Then I made a list of everyone I knew who fit into those descriptions, and who might be willing to give me specific feedback. Once I knew WHO I wanted to ask, I turned to the questions of WHAT I wanted to ask and HOW I wanted to ask.
Trying to manage multiple email threads felt daunting to me, and I also wanted my beta readers to have the option to respond anonymously. I turned to Google Forms to create a survey.
Beta readers are early readers who give you feedback after you’ve gone through developmental editing.
Who to enlist: Readers in your target audience (the type of reader who would enjoy your book). Who is your ideal reader?
How many readers: 5-??? This number is up to you. The more beta readers you have, the more feedback you have to sift through. You want a large enough sample that you feel confident in the feedback, but not so much that you’re overwhelmed by the amount of feedback.
When to enlist them: After you’ve finished developmental edits and big-picture revisions.
Where to find them: Ask folks you know (these people don’t have to be close to you; they just need to like the type of book you’ve written). If you have a newsletter, ask your subscribers who would be interested in beta reading for you. This is a great way to engage with your fans, but remember that you can (and should) be picky with your selection. Say yes to the folks who regularly engage with you.
You can also reach out to local book clubs; check in with a local writing group; or hire a professional.
What’s your favorite book, or who’s your favorite author, in the genre you write?
If you can’t answer that question, then it’s time to head to the library or bookstore.
Reading other works in your genre has so many benefits for you as a writer:
Be Inspired: Read with curiosity and wonder because inspiration abounds everywhere, especially in books we love. Maybe you’re just inspired to exist in a world where a book like this exists. Or maybe the author is clever and plays with structure in an interesting way. Or prompts you to wonder about something that becomes your next great idea.
Find things to avoid: What does the author do that annoys you?
Stay current with trends.
Support a fellow writer.
Learn about comps (when writing a query, book proposal, or preparing your elevator speech). Comps is short for “comparative titles.” It means books that are similar to yours.
Style sheets are one of my favorite organizational tools during the line editing process. They will save you so much time as you move from line editing, or copyediting, to proofreading.
When you’re reviewing your line edits, the style sheet is like a buddy that you can refer to when you’re wondering why I made a suggested edit.
Providing your proofreader with a style sheet is a great gift and will make their process so much easier because they’ll have access to all the decisions we made for your book. And if you’re writing a series, there a must have because there is no way you’ll remember all the stylistic decisions you made when writing the first book.
I’ve always been a teacher at heart, and I love sharing what I know about editing and writing to help authors grow. This is why I created the blog “An Editor’s Teaching Corner for Writers.”
Each post will contain a writing tip from one element of the Teaching Corner Framework, which consists of Mindset, Content, Mechanics, and Feedback to help you grow as a writer. So what kinds of things will I be teaching?
Mindset: Mindset tips will cover everything from imposter syndrome to defining success, to creating a writing practice that works for your individual style.
Content: Content tips will dive deep into story elements and other ideas that make your writing unputdownable. Nonfiction folks, don’t worry, I’ll explore content areas for your growth, too.
Mechanics: Mechanics tips will cover ways to improve your writing at the word and sentence level. Think all things punctuation, grammar, spelling, formatting, etc.
Feedback: Feedback tips will explore how to source feedback and what to do with it once you’ve received it.
What kinds of things will I not cover? The Teaching Corner won’t explain publishing or marketing tips. That is not my wheelhouse, and there are other folks who are doing a great job with this already. However, I promise to share helpful resources in these areas whenever I run across one.