Beta Reader Feedback & More
So it’s been a little while since I’ve posted a blog. It happens. Life gets busy!
I sent out HALFLIFE for beta readers on February 21. I’ve heard back from nearly everyone, and I am really excited about the next round of edits. So far, the feedback is pretty positive! I went on vacation last week, so I figured I could relax the deadline. Hopefully I’ll hear back from the other beta readers within the next couple of days. And then…EDITS! More edits. I hate editing.
Once I turned HALFLIFE over to my readers, I dove straight into book two. I found that I like writing a hell of a lot better than editing. Edits are a necessary part of any manuscript, but they get tedious. For me, once I’ve finished a draft, I don’t like touching it too much. There is such a thing as over editing. But I also find that I get bored exploring the same story. To me, writing is a fun process, and editing is the necessary evil. I like being able to explore the world without limitations, and editing makes me feel like there are limitations. Book two is coming along nicely. I am really excited about the journey the characters are going on.
Now, that being said, I have to return to book one. If this series is ever going to be published, the manuscript has to be refined. I was so nervous about handing my book over for betas, and there’s a part of me that was horrified that people might not like it. Considering a lot of people don’t know what a beta reader does, I gave a list of questions to my readers as a guideline, mostly about things I doubted. The questions are below:
1. There are five main characters in HALFLIFE. Did you feel this was too many perspectives? Was there ever a time you were confused about whose voice was in a specific chapter?
-I was incredibly worried about this. Most books that have multiple perspectives limit it to two or three. There are FIVE in my book, and I was really worried my readers would feel it was too much. I was worried the characters’ voices would not be unique and people would get confused with whose perspective they were reading.
2. The point of view of each character is in first person. Would you have preferred seeing these characters from third person point of view?
-In the original draft, this story was in third person. There was one chapter in particular where a male and female character were talking about another female character. The hes and shes got incredibly confusing. By taking out one of them, I felt I was able to convey the story better. In first person point of view, you can give a lot more of the internal of the character than you can in third person. Conversely, third person allows for more mystery (recently read the Throne of Glass series and third person kept the reader from knowing much about the main character, which I really liked). I’ve struggled with whether I wanted to keep the story in first person or maybe do a variation (The OUTLANDER books, for example, have multiple perspectives, but the only one in first person is the main character, Claire). Overall, no one disliked the story being first person, so I feel like the decision to keep each character first person is a good one.
3. Were there any glaring plot holes or continuity issues? For example, Kate’s eyes are blue in chapter one, but green at the end of the book.
-This is something any author needs readers to keep in mind. I’ve changed little details, such as hair color, or the outcome of a character. I always try to make the updates, but the readers were able to point out several plot holes I missed so I can fix it.
4. Did any chapter feel random or out of place?
-This book started out centered on Dominick, the main character. When I wrote it centered around her, I found there was so much more to the story that we were missing. One thing my writing partner told me as we talked about HALFLIFE was that the supporting characters make the story. I had actually considered scrapping this and taking the voice of one of the supporting characters because it seemed everyone loved her more than the main character. But the truth is, this story isn’t just about Dominick or Kate or Caleb. It’s a culmination of all of these characters. The point here is, there are times where I’ve had to add a chapter from another character as a filler, and if it didn’t feel like a natural chapter, I wanted to know.
5. Did you have a favorite part of the book?
-This is purely for me. I wanted to know what the readers liked. So far, each reader has different parts they liked, and that tells me the story can appeal to a broad group of readers. I felt like I had a very diverse group of betas, so I could touch on different audiences. The only thing I didn’t have was a male perspective (if you’re a guy and want to read my book, please reach out to me!)
6. Did you have a least favorite part book?
-Again, purely for my knowledge. As a reader, there are times when I read a book and literally throw it because I didn’t like something. Not because I want the author to do something different. Because it made me feel something. Besides, if everyone came back saying the same thing, it would give me an opportunity to pause and rethink if that is something I should keep. So far, this hasn’t happened.
7. Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?
-I love every single character I’ve written. Whether they have a perspective or not, I am biased. They are people that I’ve created that live in my head, and I was curious to know if others liked them. Most of them like Kate, who, unsurprisingly, is a version of my best friend. I was glad for that, because I feel like it is a dedication to who she is in real life.
8. Is there something you wanted to see by the end of the book, but didn’t? If so, what?
-It’s always good to see if a reader has suggestions. There are books that I’ve read and felt dissatisfied because the author could have done this, or could have done that. I wanted to give an opportunity to readers to tell me what they missed. I was not disappointed.
9. This is the first book in a series. Would you pick up book two based on this first story?
-For those keeping score, I have five books planned in the HALFLIFE series (plus, there’s a prequel story that may or may not be a series). It could end up being more, if the books do well, but as of today, five is the magic number. This made me incredibly happy: every single person said that they would continue reading. One even volunteered to beta book two because they wanted to read what happened next. For a writer, that is a glorious feeling.
On a more personal note, in addition to writing, I’ve got a lot going on in my life right now that I felt the need to share.
-Four years ago, I lost a lot of weight and I recently gained it all back. I’m working really hard to get it off. It’s been more difficult than it was before. I am the type of person who eats my feelings. I’m happy? Let’s celebrate by eating! I’m sad? I need to eat to feel better. I’m overwhelmed? Food will make it better. I’m bored? I need to eat something!
-I have also quit smoking. I picked it up when I was young and never really thought it would be this big thing. But it is. I smoked my last cigarette on Sunday. Words of encouragement aren’t necessary, but they are definitely appreciated.
-Vacation was fun! My parents and I went on a week long cruise to Jamaica, Cayman Islands, and Mexico. While seven days on a boat is a little too long for me, I had a great time doing something new. Now I can say I’m an international traveler!
-Lauren and I are working on a hardcore overhaul of one of our books. Progress has been slow (life has gotten in the way for both of us), but I’m excited about the changes and hopeful the story will be better off in the long run. We’ve also determined that series is four books, instead of the three originally planned.
To those beta readers who have provided me with feedback, please check your email. It may have gone to your SPAM box, so be sure to check there as well. Thank you again. It means a great deal to me to have such awesome people in my corner.
Thanks for going along on this crazy journey with me!