Beta-Reading

Hey, everyone! It’s been a couple of weeks since my last blog post, and I hope all of you have been doing well! I thought it’d be important to give everyone an update on what’s been going on since Diamond City’s release and to address the importance of beta-reading to all the new authors out there! So, without further ado, let’s dive right in!

Recap

A few weeks ago, I announced the title of the sequel to Diamond City: Emerald City! Which I’ve already written and is now in the beta-reading stage. I’m planning on having the cover by August/September, and then it’ll be time for the ARC stage again. Okay, so what’s the plan?

In my last post, I addressed NetGalley and whether or not I’d be using it again. As an indie author who doesn’t have a huge reader following yet, I wasn’t too comfortable with the sort of readers/reviewers I was attracting. I much preferred to reach out to the Bookstagram community because I got to connect with my readers in a way you really can’t on NetGalley. Honestly, as a reader myself, I’m more inclined to give (helpful) feedback to someone who asked me to. This, I feel, has been the best for me so far and it’s what I’m going to stick to moving forward.

The problem is…I didn’t do this for Diamond City.

The Importance of Beta-reading

For Diamond City, I only had two people beta-reading it.

My best friend and freelance editor.

My best friend gave me incredible feedback that I used to make the novel two times better than it was. She sent me an email with all the parts that needed tweaking and what she wanted to see more of. Great!

My freelance editor was more of a line-edit kind of thing. As far as story and developmental edits, it was completely useless. When it comes to the English language, I’m not perfect, but I studied a lot of English at FIU and I don’t think that’s exactly what Diamond City needed in its early stages. Either way, I was super confident in my work and uploaded it to NetGalley as an ARC without asking for more feedback.

And there’s my mistake.

Okay. If you’re an author, I’m sure you’ve heard this a gazillion times. If you’re querying agents, you’ve heard this, too. Please, for the love of all that is good, have someone other than your circle of friends read your book. The feedback you get from strangers, sometimes, opens your eyes to mistakes or pitfalls that you didn’t know were there. The majority of my reviewers complimented my world building. The same reviewers said the beginning was hard to follow. Would I have tweaked the beginning had I known this from the get-go? Probably. Although Diamond City is a sci-fi tale with a lot of world-building, I could have fixed early scenes to help readers along a bit better. But, in the ARC stage, it was too late for a major edit like that. Once the design process starts, tweaking chapters can become…expensive.

Anyway, so beta-reading is definitely important! For Emerald City, I’ve asked five people to read it. Depending on the feedback I get, I more or less know what changes I’m going to be incorporating. I also have my own ideas for what I want to fix. Once I’ve tweaked it, I’m going to send it off for another round of beta-reading. I will consider asking the same people if they’re interested, but I already have a list of the new ones I’m going to ask. Depending on that feedback, Emerald City will either be ready or not. How would I tell?

Ultimately, I’ll ask myself: Am I happy with it? Is it my best work? At the end of the day, it’s all I can do. Right now, I’m going through my first round of edits. So far so good, but we shall see!

Should you hire an editor?

The answer is…maybe. It really depends. If this is your first novel and you don’t have much experience writing, I would say yes. Writing is an art and not everyone can do it well. Also keep in mind that there are two types of edits:

  • Developmental Editing
  • Line-Editing

Developmental editing is what beta-readers actually do. They read what you have and tell you what they liked and didn’t. Line-editing is more for grammar, sentence structure, transitions, and phrasing. This can get tricky for writers who don’t have a lot of experience. The bad part is when the story or emotions get muddled because the novel is just written strangely or wrong. Beta-readers will and should also determine the novel’s readability as well. If they say that the wording was off or there are a ton of errors, then maybe it is a good idea to hire an editor.

But be warned: editors are crazy expensive. Self-publishing a book is already expensive enough as it is (cover art, page design, ISBN number, etc.), so adding an editor on top of that can be taxing. I would say you know yourself. If you’ve been writing for a long time and you get positive feedback from your beta-readers, maybe you can swing it. But if this is all new to you…well…You want to put your best foot forward. I dread the day I publish something I’m not a 100% with. As a reader, I want a book the author has poured his/her heart and soul into. And trust me, I’ve picked up books that make me feel cheated. Where I know, for a fact, the author didn’t care about edits or proofreading to make my reading as enjoyable as possible.

More to come!

Anyway, that’s the update! There will be more coming soon, such as how the edits for Emerald City are going and an official new-book announcement for 2024!

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