As I shift my professional focus more fully to writing, I am spending more and more time actively polishing some of the works I have in progress.
I have one book that is nearly ready for a final round of beta reading. What's beta reading? It is a process in which an author recruits a small group of avid readers to "test read" an unpublished manuscript, to assist in the process of revision. The author sends the manuscript in whole or in part (very often in chunks) to his or her selected readers, with a series of questions to answer about the selection.
No, this isn't your high school English Lit class! The questions aren't exactly a quiz. Authors use the beta reading process to find problems in their manuscript, plot, character development and world building, get feedback about the story and characters in general, pinpoint areas that need more work or less narrative or dialogue...
In general, the beta process is about making the story better for readers.
I've used this in the past as I finished up the first few drafts of my first finished novel, Finding Home. I enjoyed working with my beta readers early this year, and now that I'm reaching the final stages of preparing this manuscript for querying (when an author submits their work to agents and editors with the intention to get traditionally published), it's time for one last round.
Finding Home is romantic suspense. This means that there is a love story central to the plot which runs parallel to elements of suspense. Jillian Shaw’s new job affords her independence after her dangerous husband abandons her and her daughter, but she finds herself falling fast for her new bodyguard, Ian Fitzpatrick, and their growing relationship might cost him his career.
Jillian Shaw has always taken care of everyone else, but she's never been on her own. When her husband leaves her for his mistress and a better job in another state, she finds herself needing to land on her feet to support herself and their 7 year old daughter. Her organizational skills and ability to think quickly land her a job with a venture capital firm, where she meets gruff and enigmatic Ian “Fitz” Fitzpatrick.
Fitz has been part of Jared's security team for years. But when he's tasked with keeping Jill and her daughter safe from the looming threat of her ex, he discovers the very real danger of falling in love with his brilliant and beautiful new charge and her darling daughter. Jared has hard and fast rules about his security staff having relationships, and Fitz is forced to choose between his career and the woman he loves.
I'm looking to fill two or three spots for beta readers (in addition to those who've already signed up). Sections are 3-5 chapters long - I've tried to keep them to about 50 pages each, and I am asking readers to complete at least one section per week (complete=read and returned feedback).
The book is an adult-level romance and there are scenes containing sex and adult language. There are also scenes involving spousal and child abuse and a few very short scenes involving forced sexual encounters or references to such (these are limited to a few paragraphs and are not graphic). If these subjects offend you or may potentially trigger PTSD events for you, I ask that you carefully reconsider applying to beta read this particular book. Tons of authors out there are looking for beta readers in genres more suited to your tastes.
Beta readers will receive one section at a time with a series of questions pertaining to the section they have on hand. While the questions will mostly remain the same throughout the book, they may change from time to time. (this is the first time I've used specific feedback questions, and this is an evolving process)
Because I'm looking for feedback, readers aren't required to edit or suggest changes to the text itself. I am, however, looking for constructive information about readers' impressions, the plot, questions that arise during reading, and how the characters are developing. I'm looking for detailed feedback about what readers love and dislike (or hate... hopefully not hate!), and no question is ever *required*.
I've beta read for my darling writing buddy, Allie McCormack, and I can tell you from experience that beta reading is both exhilarating (who doesn't get excited to read a book that's not public yet, AND you get to help shape the final product!) and difficult. The reading pace is different (for me anyway... I have one beta reader I share with Allie who blasts through chapters like no one's business, and she gives incredible feedback), because you aren't just sitting back and enjoying the story line (though as a writer, I hope, pray, plead and grovel to the powers-that-be that you will enjoy it). Critical thought is asked of you with each section you complete - if this takes all the joy out of reading for you, this isn't for you.
If, however, getting first crack at an unpublished work, getting to help the author make the story truly wonderful for readers, thinking critically about what you read and formulating constructive feedback gets you revved up?
I wanna hear from you!
How to Dive In:
Finding Home is ready to roll out to beta readers. If you're interested in getting involved, I've got a handy little application for ya to fill out. Yes, I'm asking you to apply. No, it's not a job and it doesn't pay anything - except, hopefully, a lot of enjoyment of a story I've loved crafting. I'm looking for folks who fit my target audience and enjoy reading romance novels. Finding Home is a romantic suspense, and is roughly 580 pages long. I need readers who can stay the course and communicate their feedback to me.
If you aren't selected, it doesn't mean that I don't like you, or that I've deemed you unfit to beta read. I do have a limited number of spaces (because I also have to sift through all this feedback and do something with it!), and need solid feedback from these readers.
Still interested? You can get started today (I'll send out the first section just as soon as I get your response and can get to my computer, in case I'm out and about), by filling out the form below and hitting submit!