Love Your Beta (and Other Thoughts on Self-Publishing from a Whirling Mind)

It’s been a while since I’ve posted on my writing blog.  I find that I’m still trying to figure out exactly how to juggle this writer thing with the day job and still finding time to just “be me” and “have a life”.  Hopefully, one day I’ll get it all figured out, but until then, I hope those of you who are reading bear with me.  🙂

Since I’m going the indie route, I’m finding that I have to be all things to all people as I work towards publishing the first novel.  I am author, editor, secretary, finance manager, public relations staff, social media analyst, CEO, and I don’t know what all!  I’m in the middle of final edits to my debut novel, and in and around finishing those, I am also researching blog tours, who will take an ARC to review my book, which site is the best distributor for ebooks, Kindle Select—Do I?  Don’t I?, planning a release party, setting up my business name so I can collect royalties…. “ET CETERA, ET CETERA, ET CETERA (**cue Yul Brunner from The King and I here).

More often than not, I’m left just wondering if I’ll ever get it all figured out.  The successful indie authors I follow and love make it all look so easy and effortless, although I am positive they’ve been where I currently am at some point when beginning their life as a publisher/author.  The one thing I can say is that many of them have been so very kind to share their insights and tips and tricks with newbies like me out here.  That means the world to someone carefully inching their way down the path to publication.

The other thing I am finding is my life preserver in the ocean of self-publication—my beta-readers.  Do not underestimate the contribution of an excellent and thorough beta-reader.  At this point, two of them are more like critique partners than betas.  Line by line, page by page, chapter after chapter—copious notes and markings indicating what is working and also what isn’t and habits I tend to have with phrasing.  (Apparently, my characters were tending to blink and wink a LOT, also cocking/raising/lifting/wagging/shifting eyebrows.  I’m guessing when I was writing the original draft during NaNoWriMo I was giving them temporary Tourette’s or something… )

For a long time, I’ve been very apprehensive about giving my drafts away for first-looks and/or beta-reads.  You spend countless hours over many months crafting and writing a book that feels like it has become part of your soul, and you don’t want anyone else telling you it sucks (or your characters have so many facial tics going on that people will think they’re tripping on some kind of experimental drug).  It’s scary revealing this deeply personal work of art to the world.  It’s your baby, your “precious”, and you don’t want it harmed.   So I put it off for as long as remotely possible, afraid of what people would say about it.

Nevertheless, if I want to become a published author, then I have to eventually let people read my book.  So I finally sent it out to my betas.  Surprisingly, when I got my draft back, marks and notes on every line, I found that my feelings weren’t hurt.  I found that I was excited!  I was dying to clutch those pages to my chest, speed away home, and begin working on “my precious”.  Why?  Because I knew that going through the feedback would only make my story better.  The notations weren’t only just corrections or negatives; they were also positive comments on what was working or what my beta was liking.  I also found that many of the second thoughts or changes I had already been thinking about myself were often being confirmed by my beta’s notes.  That made me feel secure in the knowledge that I was in tune enough to the story to know what needed shifting and confirmed my hope that I wasn’t so attached to the story “as it was” that I would be too obstinate to make it better.  That in itself was quite liberating.  I have embraced completing this final revision of my novel and know that in the end, this story and these characters will be even more engaging and touching than I had originally conceived them to be.  Don’t be afraid of your beta-readers!  Love your betas!  (Especially if you have awesome ones like I do!)

 

**Publication update:  Seeking Solace now has an April 2015 release date!  Stay tuned for cover reveal and release day announcement!

**Meme credit to compositionatthebeach.com

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4 thoughts on “Love Your Beta (and Other Thoughts on Self-Publishing from a Whirling Mind)

  1. I hope that when I am finally (FINALLY) ready for a beta-reader I handle the feedback half as well as you have! I think the willingness (or eagerness, in your case!) to accept critique is the mark of a really good writer! 🙂

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