I received a shock this week. My Shadow Falls series made the New York Times Best Sellers List!!!! I hadn’t dared to even hope, but then it happened, and I got that call. After I stopped screaming and dancing around my kitchen, I thought about you because I know I never would have made that list without my readers. So, a heartfelt thank you to each and every one of you who have supported me by buying my books. You rock!
Now on to today’s blog, and I have a special treat for you! Fellow Texan and YA author Victoria Scott is guest blogging. She writes dark, humorous books and shares my love of cotton candy. Victoria has some good advice for those of you who have told me you want to be writers.
The Awesomeness That is Beta Readers
Beta readers are people who read your manuscript before you submit it to agencies/editors and give their opinion on what should change. And for the record, I support the idea of using these peeps even after you’ve signed with an agent or pub house. One bit of advice, though. When utilizing beta readers, always have the following on stand-by:
A reason why you hate each person.
This is crucial to the process. It’ll help you dismiss any negative feedback. Also handy? A list of replacement friends. Any writer should have this. It’s as important as pen and paper.
On the reals, betas have taught me a lot. For example, if I haven’t answered every question man has ever thought to ask within the first 3 chapters, the book is crap. I kid. Kind of. Also, people who don’t read your genre are not good betas. They will hurt your feelings. Trust me. When this happens, reach for your friend-replacement list. I kid. Kind of. Lastly, don’t use as many betas as you have at your disposal. Choose 1-3 people who read your category, and can give honest feedback in a nice way. If you use more than a small group, you’ll get conflicting feedback and it’ll drive you bat shit. I kid. No, I don’t. This one’s true.
Overall, beta readers give me great feedback that I’m confident makes my stories stronger. They push me to answer questions. They ask for more description in some places, and less in others. They tell me what they love, and aren’t afraid to pinpoint what they hate. And they do it all with kindness.
So, once you’re done with your second draft (or first draft, if you’re an edit-as-you-write person), show the entire manuscript to your chosen readers, and incorporate the feedback YOU agree with. It’ll improve your book, and make you a better writer in the future.
Victoria Scott is a YA writer with a deep love for dark and humorous books. Her work is represented by Laurie McLean, and her debut book will be The Collector: A Dante Walker Novel (Entangled Teen, Mar. 2013). Visit her online at http://www.victoriascottya.com/.