Betas make you better

For the April A-Z blogging challenge, I’ll be blogging (almost) daily about my latest release, The Caretaker of Imagination.

Like game developers, writers use ‘betas’ to test early versions of a story. After the story is drafted, edited, edited again and then re-editedre-edited, we often send it out to our beta readers. Authors can have anywhere from 1 to 20+ beta readers, and I had about 15 for The Caretaker of Imagination! By the time I wrote Lucy’s Story: The End of the World, I was confident enough in my own ability to write a narrative with less feedback. I’d also found an editor, Jeni Chappelle, who was just the right amount of critical and enthusiastic.

One interesting thing that happened completely by accident is that all my beta readers either wrote books for grown-ups, or weren’t writers at all. At the time, this felt like a draw-back, but in hindsight I think it was a great benefit. It meant that I got a wide range of feedback, and that my betas picked out issues that other children’s authors may not have noticed.

If you’re interested in the book, you can purchase it from one of the links below:

PRINT BOOK

AMAZON

KOBO

10 Responses to “Betas make you better

  • I think it would be fun to be a beta reader. I’ve never been one! I love the cover art on your books.

    Glad I found you through the A to Z Challenge!

    – Eli @ Coach Daddy #1314

    • zeesouthcombe@gmail.com
      3 years ago

      Hi Eli!

      Thanks for your comment – and your email as well. Hey, if you ever want to read a kid’s book, let me know. I’m always open to new people and fresh perspectives.

      The cover art is wonderful, isn’t it? My illustrator knows how to keep me happy 🙂

      Zee

  • Great post:) How did you choose your beta readers?

    • zeesouthcombe@gmail.com
      3 years ago

      Cheers, Inger.

      At first, it was a friend who offered to read my work and give me feedback. She’s an avid reader and was doing her masters in creative writing at the time.

      From there, I pretty much did an open call (on Facebook and Google+). That actually worked out really well because I got feedback from a wide range of people – different ages, different tastes, different experiences.

      I did get the most thorough feedback from other writers, but non-writers were pretty good too.

      Finding an editor was a bit harder. Since editors are more entrenched in the industry, it was harder to find someone who didn’t balk at the fact the book a) had an adult protagonist and b) had lots of ‘big words’. I now use Jeni Chappelle and she’s brilliant.

      • Thank you! That’s helpful. Of course you can have an adult protagonist! When J.K. Rowling submitted the first Harry Potter, she was told children don’t read long books like that. They don’t know. No one knows. Good stories will prevail!

        • zeesouthcombe@gmail.com
          3 years ago

          Yeah they have a lot of business sense, and a good hold of the market as it currently stands, but (with good reason, I suppose) don’t tend to take risks.

          • I know, but people only can tall what trended AFTER the fact. Same in fashion. People thought Coco Chanel was nuts for using tweed, a fabric considered cheap and masculine. But, that doesn’t mean I don’t understand where publishers are coming from. They have to believe in what they are selling.

          • zeesouthcombe@gmail.com
            3 years ago

            Excellent point, m’lady. I concede to your logic 🙂 And yes – I can totally see it from the publisher’s POV as well.

  • I can’t wait to be at the point I need a beta reader. I am still on first edit.

    • zeesouthcombe@gmail.com
      3 years ago

      All of it is exciting though 🙂 What genre is your book?

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