The manuscript for The Gypsy Pearl 2: Craggy sits in the cyber hands of eleven wonderful beta readers right now. Why do I say wonderful? I mean, besides the fact that they are willing to spend time reading, proofing and commenting on a very unfinished book? Because I know all of these people, and I know they’ll do a great job.
Why I wanted them…
- They had all read The Gypsy Pearl and liked it, so they had an open heart for what happens to my characters.
- They are all writers (including the teens!), so I know they’ll look at the craft, not just the story.
- They all know me well enough to help me be true to myself and my standards. The beauty of that last part is that I have not met more than three of them face-to-face, but through the online indie writers community of Clean Indie Reads.
What they’re doing…
- I’ve sent them the full manuscript in five approximately equal-lengthed pieces.
- They read it and react to the overall feel of it.
- They find twippinig errors and the sorts of strange mistakes that cut & paste at 2am can cause.
- They let me know if the pacing is off, or the descriptions are unclear, or the characters’ motivations vague.
- They help me make the book better.
Are they always right?
These guys do a pretty good job. So far, I’ve received a few dozen notes for corrections or alterations. I’ve used all but three. You see, as the responses trickle back, I get to work implementing the changes right away. That’s why I send it to them in chunks instead of all at once. If I had to wait until they all finished the whole book, I’d go completely nuts. This way, I get niblets to chew on every day. That helps me feel productive, and I love watching the shine of the newly polished segments.
We go back and forth–like dancers–trying to make something beautiful by asking questions and brainstorming solutions. I love the collaboration of it. Choosing good beta readers is hugely important. Listening to them is even more so. I have to put away my pride and open up my mind to the reality that my story is not yet perfect.
And then I have to listen to my gut. Some suggested changes are obvious; I left out a word, or forgot to mention the main character’s name for the first seven pages (really!). Some are not so evident because they are more theoretical. I’ll have to dig deep and ask myself–and my characters–if those are the right moves to make.
This may take longer than I anticipated, but it will be so worth it!