Genesis of a Novel – PartXI – Beta Readers

So, you’ve finished your first draft. Congratulations! That’s an incredible hurdle! So many would-be authors never finish their first draft of their first novel. It deserves celebration, kudos, and a nice big drink of the alcoholic persuasion.

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Now comes the work.

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I worked on editing my first draft before I sent it out to my beta readers. That editing included a full read-through, as well as searching for grammar, typos, timeline inconsistencies, subplots I forgot to tie up, character name changes or personality shifts, etc. It took me approximately 15 more hours to do this editing before I deemed it ready for my beta readers.

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Beta readers are those that will read your book and poke holes in it. They ask questions like, “Why did Esme choose Sean? Alan was much nicer to her,” or “this paragraph is awkward,” or “wait, didn’t that guy get killed off in chapter 3?”

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At a certain point, authors become blind to their own words. They have read each scene so many times, they ‘know’ exactly what is supposed to be in each, and unconsciously skim over the actual written words. Things get missed that way. Fresh eyes are absolutely necessary at this point to find the glaring errors, and even some of the subtle ones. Usually beta readers are other authors, you might be beta reading their own draft in exchange. Sometimes they are better at the big picture, or perhaps at line-by-line grammar edits. Each one has its strengths. Each one is invaluable.

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This is also a time the plots refine in my mind. As I lay falling asleep, I decide I need another appearance from the Bishop near the end, and I need to make certain another character forgets an important detail. Or I need to add a character, or change another’s attitude. Perhaps I want to increase the tension in another scene, or decrease the wait between scenes. More description at that point.

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I write myself notes and work on those refinements the next day.

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The hardest part right now is waiting. What if they hate it? What if it’s a total mess? And since beta reading is such a labor-intensive task, it takes a while. A month, maybe more. I’m currently beta-reading a book for another author and have spent about 20 hours on it so far.

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Once the beta readers return their comments to you, it’s time for more edits. You may agree with those edits, or you may disagree. It’s totally up to you, they just suggest. However, if several betas say the same thing, you may want to re-examine that bit carefully.

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As a note – ALWAYS thank your betas. They’ve put in a great deal of time and effort to help you make YOUR book better. It’s a lot of work. Even if you disagree with what they say, thank them for their time and smile. Betas are gold. They are diamonds. They are… my preciousssss.

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After I receive my beta-read drafts, I will edit and then edit some more. Perhaps send out the draft again after that, if I feel I need to get more feedback, or if I change a major portion of the story.

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However, for now, I’ll catch up on the reviews I’ve promised others, the beta reads I’ve promised others, and start thinking about my next book. I’ve already got the plot synopsis to about four paragraphs.

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And that starts the whole process over again!

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For those keeping track, my time so far on this novel:

  • About 20 hours research before I started
  • 3 hours setting up the synopsis, characters, scene list
  • 55 hours writing the first draft (over 4 months’ time!)
  • 20 hours editing

Total so far: 97 hours, and I ain’t done yet.

 

More parts:

 

*****

I write historical fantasy novels, mostly set in Ireland, and a contemporary romance based on my parents’ 30-year search for true love. Don’t miss information on Celtic myth and history, as well as practical travel planning tips, and hidden places, in my travel books.
– Better To Have Loved – Contemporary romance based on the true story of my parents’ 30-year search for love
– Legacy of Hunger – Historical fantasy set in 1846 Ireland
– Legacy of Truth – Historical fantasy set around 1800 Ireland. Prequel to Legacy of Hunger. Available now!
– Legacy of Luck – Released!!! Historical fantasy set in 1745 Ireland and Scotland. Prequel to Legacy of Truth.
– The Enchanted Swans – Historical fantasy set in 500 BCE Ireland, based on The Children of Lir, an Irish Fairy Tale. On pre-order now! Release date March 8, 2017.
Call of the Morrigú – Historical fantasy set in 1797 Ireland. Projected release date July 2017.
– Stunning, Strange and Secret: A Guide to Hidden Scotland
– Mythical, Magical, Mystical: A Guide to Hidden Ireland
More info at Green Dragon Artist :: Home ,
Christy Jackson Nicholas, Author , and
Tirgearr Publishing – Christy Nicholas
Green Dragon Artist Blog
Handmade at Amazon Store

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I am an artist, accountant and author living in western New York, transplanted from Denmark, Michigan, Florida, West Virginia, Pennsylvania (in that order!) I love the beauty of the world and sharing it with others through jewelry, photography, digital painting and writing.

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13 comments on “Genesis of a Novel – PartXI – Beta Readers
  1. A.S. Akkalon says:

    Let me just say I am in awe of how quickly you work. If I had to guess, my numbers would look more like this:
    * Who does research before they start?
    * 6 months setting up the synopsis, characters, scene list
    * 150 hours writing the first draft (over 3 months’ time)
    * 6 months editing and counting…

    Liked by 1 person

    • We all work differently! Since this is my 7th novel, I’ve worked up a routine, so to speak, and that’s exactly why I wanted to document it – both for my own edification and records and to help others see one way to do it.

      I’m a very goal-driven personality. I LOVE LOVE LOVE finishing projects. I am one of the few authors I know who have NO unfinished novels unless I’m in the middle of a WIP. I get incredibly uncomfortable with unfinished projects of any sort. It’s a personality quirk that actually helps a great deal in this field.

      Now, if only my AR tendency extended to cleaning…

      Liked by 1 person

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