Last Friday, I received the final batch of chapters from my editor and spent all weekend working on them. I feel a little bad for my husband, sometimes. Not only do I work throughout the week, but there have been many weekends this past year where I’ve sequestered myself in the office, as well. Luckily, he’s very supportive of what I’m doing and doesn’t seem to mind too much.
As a result of all that hard work, I now have a fully edited beta manuscript! Or, as my friend put it, a “Master Beta.” (teehee. What does it say that my inner middle school kid still finds that funny?)
I have three beta readers who have committed to reading my book and getting their responses back to me by the end of March. My book is 232 pages long, and I know what a huge commitment it is. I also made an announcement on Facebook and found another friend who volunteered.
My original readers are all female, but my last friend is male. It will be interesting to see if there are any major differences in perspective between the genders. I think I’m most nervous about this last reader. Not only because he’s a guy, but because I know he doesn’t typically read romantic suspense.
For my next book, I will definitely schedule more time for this step. Technically, I could do so this time around. But here’s the thing, I have a self-imposed deadline I’m trying to meet, and it means a lot to me to make it happen. I set out with a goal last year, and I’ve been working steadily towards it this whole time. In my heart, I know that I could spend months and months (and months, and months…) chewing on this manuscript and still not feel like it’s ready.
I can’t let myself stall like that. By keeping to this fast pace, I’m hoping it will not only force me to overcome my procrastination tendencies, but it will help me overcome some of my self-doubt and fear of being a writer.
One of the pieces of advice I read early on was to have questions to present to your beta readers, along with the manuscript. Since most beta readers for first-time authors tend to be friends and family, the tendency for them is to say, “It’s great!” and support you without giving a lot of honest critique. By presenting a list of questions, the idea is to encourage your readers to think more critically about the piece and feel comfortable about giving genuine feedback.
Here’s the list of questions that I included with my manuscript. I found many of them from this link, but added a few of my own specifically related to my book.
- At what point did you feel like, “Ah, now the story has really begun!”
- Were there points in the book where you found yourself skimming? What was your favorite scene in the book? What was your least favorite?
- Which setting in the book was clearest to you as you were reading? Which do you remember the best? Did you feel the descriptions of the settings were too much, too little, or just right?
- Which character would you most like to meet and get to know? Are there any characters you’d like to read more about?
- What was the most suspenseful moment in the book?
- If you had to pick one character to get rid of, who would you ax?
- Was there a situation in the novel that reminded you of something in your own life?
- Where did you stop reading the first time you cracked open the manuscript? How did you feel about the pace of the book overall?
- What was the last book you read before this? And, what did you think of it? Are you familiar with the romantic suspense genre? Do you feel this book fits that genre well?
- Finish this sentence: “I kept reading because…” Did you want to keep reading to the end, or did you feel obligated to? Did the ending leave you satisfied? If not, what went wrong?
I made sure they realized these weren’t meant to be “test” questions, or all-inclusive. Rather, they were there to encourage them to think more critically and to feel encouraged to offer any insights they may have about the book.
Overall, I’m nervous and excited to hear what they think! Now that I’ve started sharing this manuscript with more than just my sister and my editor, it’s starting to feel VERY real.