So it’s gone. Out to the world. Or at least three people’s worlds. I’m trying to forget about it. I’m trying to not let it swirl round my head, but it’s difficult and I keep opening up my emails, scrolling to my sent items, finding it and diving in to read.
Sometimes I like what I read, sometimes I don’t. I see mistakes, I see flaws, I see dialogue that belongs on a daytime soap opera. But that’s what I need to find. That’s what I need to be told about. That’s why my book is with three beta readers.
It all happened really quick in the end. I’d been struggling with the editing for weeks, bored with it, intimidated by it, wondering what the hell I’d gotten myself into with this decision to get published or die. It all seemed so onerous. So blah. So… oh look what’s on TV, I’ll just watch this for a while and sure the book will still be there, waiting.
At the start, I thought, I’ll never get this done. I thought I had months ahead –weeks of taxing, burning, scratch and rewriting. But, there came a turning point, somewhere around the 50,000 word mark. I noticed I was getting through the text quicker. It didn’t seem to drag as much. I could edit a couple of thousand words in one go.
And as the wordcount to do dwindled in front of me, it gave me a new lease of novel life and I put my mind to it and two good Saturdays and there it was, first edit completed.
It makes sense of course that the first part of your book is loose, sketchy, characters not fully formed. The early parts of your book are where you are forming your novel, getting into the swing, practising. No wonder this takes the longest to edit.
The second part flowed. Not because I got better at editing, but because I’d gotten better at writing.
I like this progression. I like this learning. And I really enjoyed editing towards the end. There, I said it, who would have thunk?
So what are beta readers then? Well, they are kind souls who agree to read the early drafts of your book and tell you
not to give up the day job the parts that work and the parts that don’t. They may be called alpha readers either – I’m not sure, I read somewhere that the alpha reader is you, when you’re editing and the beta readers are the first ‘other eyes’. That’s why I’ve called this blog post alpha beta, tomayto tomata. It doesn’t really matter – what matters is that it’s gone out now and I’m eagerly awaiting feedback.
A few people have asked me where I found my beta readers. I’ve had my beta readers in my mind while I was writing. Stephen King talks of the IR – Ideal Reader – someone that you are writing for. For me, it was someone who liked an intelligent book, good writing, historical but not burdened down in detail – a good storyline, an interesting main character. I’m not saying that’s what I produced – but that was what I was aiming to produce. All along, instead of thinking about myself reading it, I thought of them reading it. Would they like it, I thought?
Well, I’ll know soon enough because they have it. On their kindles. Sent by the wonders of the internet and my gmail account. A year of work and there it went, out in a second, saying hello to the world.
The feedback will determine where I go from here. It’ll point me in the rewriting direction, whether there are major plot holes that need to be addressed, whether my characters are working or where there are parts that are missing and need to be written.
I’ve had one response so far. It was positive. Very positive. It was a first reaction, but it was a good reaction. It was so good, that I couldn’t quite believe it and so I haven’t been thinking of it, because what if the other two readers come back less positive? I have to be realistic – I have to prepare to fail.
But I did get a little thrill. A little ‘what if’ in my tummy. This could work, I thought. This could happen.
Or it could not.
It doesn’t matter.
Because it might be the book after that or that book after that.
There’ll be something that will work for me. We’ll just have to see what.