While the previous month saw me fail on finding beta readers but succeed on some side writing work, this month turned it around. Completely. I am back to working on #1, the spark of imagination and desire to work on my writing rekindled…
As I said during the last month’s update, I decided to give the site betareader.io a try. And it paid off as it led to some first results, though they had some cost.
I had first two readers apply shortly after but one did not return to my story after reading the first two chapters on the day I approved the access and the other, while giving insightful feedback, became silent as well. Later, I used the site’s messaging system and he told me parenting is taking his time away from reading.
Things took a turn for the better in the coming days. First, after my last month’s update, one reader (hello, if you’re reading this) offered to take part – and at this point, I have her comments on the prologue and the first 9 chapters.
Then, I had a reader offer a swap on the site and, even though I doubted my ability to offer any decent feedback, I felt like it might be the best chance I have and went for it. It took us a few days to make the swap working as beta swap feature is still in beta stage (ba-dum tss) and buggy as hell. After seven days of various errors, he contacted the support who set it up manually.
Since then, I’ve gotten a lot of honest feedback that, one again, shown me I still have much to improve on my writing. As of writing this, he reached chapter 26 (of 57) and while my first feelings were along the lines ‘okay, so my writing is still a goddamn mess’, I started gettng some ideas on how to fix it a few days later – but I had to delay them for when I would return from my hiking holiday (10th to 17th, and I’ll describe it soon).
During that time, I received another beta swap offer – and it led to the same cycle of bugs, to the point we evenutally did it by manually signing for each other’s book without triggering the swap as a workaround – and this reader is just as helpful, though not as far through the story yet.
Anyway, now that I have three readers, I had to figure out how to actually work with simultaneous feedback – and went with the simplest solution of writing it into my offline document.
Now, one thing: I am always reluctant to look at the feedback I receive (or, in earlier stages, to just doing a self-proof-read). Not as much because of the mistakes I’d make – and the issues the betas would point out. I know it’s inevitable that there will be some. It’s more about fearing I’ll have no idea how to fix them. So my usual approach is to let it be for a week or two, then my brain somehow snaps into ‘C’mon, let’s do it’ mode, often leading into major writing burst (sometimes 20+hrs in a week).
Anyway, when I began making changes, I realized I had to keep both the original and the changed part, as well as my notes, due to the ‘desync’ among individual readers… and so my file is currently even bigger mess. Now with some colors added.
(note: screenshot below is without context and contains spoilers)
Black is past text that stays unchanged, crossed black parts are to-be-removed sections, red are ‘to do’ notes (sometimes including the relevant probably-to-be-cut passage if it’s more than a few words) and green is what I added by my current edits.
So, after struggling to even find beta readers in the past months, I now struggle to find a way to process the feedback in an orderly manner. But I am back in writing and, despite just fixing things, I have a lot of fun.
To end it on a positive note: I am still learning something new and I believe this stage will make my story even better. At what cost? hard to guess, though I am about to bonk the release from the 12/2019-3/2020 range to something like Spring 2020. Maybe I’ll aim for April 2020 as a self-given present for my 30th birthday, because why not.
Anyway, that’s it for today. Feel free to somment – maybe share your own beta stage perils?
Note: if you’d like me to share my thoughts about the betareader.io site and how it works for beta reading, tell me as well.