Life in the Slow Lane

Contemplating life, faith, words, and memories

The Dip or the Dead-End? — September 18, 2014

The Dip or the Dead-End?

My guest today is Mary Gottschalk, author of Sailing Down the Moonbeam and most recently, A Fitting Place. Mary shares her insights into marketing and the challenges marketing presents to writers today. I encourage you to visit Mary’s blog and to take a look at her books. Mary is an excellent writer and someone I look to for guidance in many ways.
Now let’s welcome, Mary.


Back in the days when I was a financial consultant to multi-national corporations, I loved Seth Godin’s little tome called The Dip.  In it, Godin offered a way to deal with that awful feeling of being ”stuck” … with those days when you’re wondering why on earth you’re doing whatever it is you’re doing.

Godin, a popular management consultant in the corporate world, draws a distinction between “a temporary setback that will get better if you keep pushing” (the Dip) and a situation that “will never get better, no matter how hard you try” (the Cul-de-Sac or dead-end).

I find Godin’s wisdom relevant for writers, particularly for indie authors who are laboring in the field, trying one trick after another to market their books, with varying degrees of success.

Even as I was still in the writing stages of my novel, A Fitting Place, I found myself resenting the seemingly endless hours I spent on social media, garnering information about titles and book blurbs and covers and printing options and, of course, marketing strategies. Pundits (social media people, mostly) kept telling me how useful this information would be. I had no reason not to believe them, but I wanted to be writing, not making lists of websites to contact and contests to enter.

I grew grumpier with every passing day.  I abhor repetitive tasks. The ever-growing list of to-do’s made it almost impossible to enjoy a bike ride or read a book—assuming I actually found time to get on a bike or pick up a book.

Even more, I hated the idea of asking strangers to do something for me.  This quirk goes back a long way.  At age 7, I was the only one in my troupe who failed to sell her quota of Girl Scout cookies.  That pattern followed me throughout a successful career.  In the early years, I never had to send out resumes because I had mentors who believed in me and opened doors on my behalf.  In the later years as a consultant, word-of-mouth recommendations from satisfied clients meant I never had to advertise.

As a consequence, I was woefully ill-prepared by both temperament and training for the kind of self-promotion that an indie writer needs to be successful.

We’ve all heard, of course, that you’ll be more successful if you focus on things that you are good at as well as passionate about.  Marketing failed on both counts.

At the same time, I didn’t like the idea of being a quitter.

Should I just buckle down and do the marketing tasks, regardless of how unpleasant they seem? Was this a dip that I could forge through, eventually developing the marketing skills to generate significant sales?  Or was this a cul-de-sac? Would I spend days and weeks on a repetitive series of tasks I hated, with little to show for my efforts?

What Godin’s little book offered was a way of thinking it through.  What I soon realized was that my measure of success with A Fitting Place is not how many books I sell or how many contests I win.  It is the simple pleasure of having a reader tell me that my novel made him or her think differently about the complexity of human relationships, about the need to break down social stereotypes about gender, about the importance of taking responsibility for your own decisions.  It is the delight of sharing life experiences with book clubs and writing groups.  And of course, it’s always nice to be told that A Fitting Place is a “page turner.”

From that perspective, I already know that my novel is successful.  Selling another 1,000 or 50,000 books will not materially increase my level of satisfaction.

An intensive marketing campaign would almost certainly be a dead-end rather than a dip.

With Godin’s help, I have begun to get some balance back in my life.  I now have time to take a philosophy class, to go for a bicycle ride, and last but not least, to dig into my waist-high “to be read” pile.

I would love to hear how you’re dealing with challenges of marketing.

Meet Mary:

DSC_4440-Edit_2-2Mary has made a career out of changing careers.

She spent nearly thirty years in the financial markets, first in New York, and then in New Zealand and Australia, eventually returning to New York.

Along the way, she dropped out several times. In the mid-1980’s, at age 40, Mary and her husband Tom embarked on the three-year sailing voyage that is the subject of her memoir, SAILING DOWN THE MOONBEAM. When the voyage ended, she returned to her career in finance, but dropped out again to provide financial and strategic planning services to the nonprofit community.

AFittingPlace_FrontCover_3.5In her latest incarnation, she is a full time writer. Her first novel, A FITTING PLACE, was released in May, 2014.  She lives in Des Moines, Iowa.

Links:

http://marycgottschalk.com/home/

http://twitter.com/marycgottschalk

http://www.facebook.com/mary.gottschalk.9

Amazon:

A Fitting Place – http://amzn.to/1m57778

Sailing Down the Moonbeam – http://www.amazon.com/Sailing-Down-Moonbeam-Mary-Gottschalk/dp/0979799724

5 People and 2 Sites You Should Follow — September 11, 2014

5 People and 2 Sites You Should Follow

Writers and bloggers need resources to aid in getting their ideas into context attractive to their followers. In order to find these resources, we could spend hours surfing the Internet to find those people most helpful to our brand, blog, or book. The following five individuals and two sites are resources I follow consistently. I hope you find something helpful among them.

1. Frances Caballo of Social Media Just for Writers

Frances Caballo
Frances Caballo

“Social Media Just for Writers was named as one of the top 30 websites for independently published authors by Penny Sansevieri of Author Marketing Experts, Inc.”

“This website will help you to get your writing in front of more readers who would love to know about your books. You’ll learn how to use social media efficiently and effectively, and you’ll learn about new applications, best practices, and tips that will help you reach your marketing goals.”

(quoted from About page of Social Media Just for Writers)

2. Dan Blank of We Grow Media

Dan Blank
Dan Blank

“I have had the privilege of working with hundreds of writers, helping them share their stories and connect with readers. Some of these folks are bestselling authors, with millions of books sold, while others are first time authors, and many more are somewhere between those two points.”

“…I’ve worked with hundreds of authors, and some of the most amazing organizations that support writers.”

(quoted from About page of We Grow Media)

3. Gretchen Louise, Connoisseur of Words and Code

Gretchen is a treasure trove of tech tips, social media tips, suggestions for maintaining an easy-to-work-with inbox, and more. Read some endorsements I found on her site:

Gretchen Louise
Gretchen Louise

“I like to think I’m fairly computer savvy, but there are some aspects of WordPress that really freak me out! Gretchen took my vision and was able to make anything I wanted happen. All I had to do was ask!”
-Kalyn Brooke, Creative Savings

“I really can’t say enough good things about Gretchen…she is professional, helpful, kind, and a coding superstar! She customized a theme for my site and it looks amazing. I felt completely confident that she would make my site look beautiful and work flawlessly, and I was right! She is a wonder.”
-Kelly, The Pretty Bee

4. Angela Ackerman and Rebecca Puglisi at Writers Helping Writers

Writers Helping Writers, formerly known as The Bookshelf Muse, is hosted by co-authors and co-bloggers, Angela Ackerman and Rebecca Puglisi. Together they have written “bestselling triplets, The Emotion Thesaurus, The Positive Trait Thesaurus, and The Negative Trait Thesaurus.”

From their About page, “Our mission is simple: offer help and support as much as we can. This site has many different tools and resources for writers, editors and teachers, so poke around and enjoy!”

5. Joel Friedlander, The Book Designer

Joel Friedlander
Joel Friedlander

Joel Friedlander, better known as The Book Designer, offers practical advice to help writers in producing better books. The following quote sums up Joel’s philosophy:

“Writers change the world one reader at a time.  But you can’t change the world with a book that’s still on your hard
drive or in a box under your bed.”

Joel’s blog is filled with resources and tools to help you decide how you want to publish your book and to teach you the ins and outs of self-publishing should you choose to follow that route. The author of many books on the subject of publishing and with a background in the field, Joel’s expertise is priceless.

6. Writer Unboxed

In 2006 aspiring novelists Therese Walsh and Kathleen Bolton collaborated to dissect complex books and movies. After their second rejection, they decided to create a site where they could state their opinions with no possibility of rejection, except possibly from readers. Writer Unboxed was born. With a list of contributors too long to share here, the articles posted in Writer Unboxed always bring something to the reader useful, educational, and resourceful. It is a site I recommend to all aspiring writers.

7. Writers Digest

writers digest
writers digest

Writers Digest, the site, is a one-stop shopping experience for the writer. With everything from books, magazines, downloads, conferences, workshops, classes, webinars, tutorials, blogs, competitions and resources, this site is like an online shopping and educational experience rolled into one. Writers of all genre will find something to suit their needs and competitive spirits. With a subscription to the newsletter, you’ll receive a list of 101 websites for writers, more than I’ll ever be able to list here. (That doesn’t mean you won’t need to continue to read my blog! Or subscribe to my newsletter.)

These are some of the folks I rely on for information and leads as I write my book. Of course, there are many others as well. However, I encourage you to take some time to visit each of these if you haven’t already. I think you’ll find something valuable.

What about you? Do you have favorite sources of information online you could share with us?

Encounters of the Best Kind — July 7, 2014

Encounters of the Best Kind

Via MorgueFile
Via MorgueFile

Not to minimize fantastic vacation trips and summers experienced in the past, but this summer’s experiences have amazed me! I cannot resist sharing the almost extraterrestrial sense of time and place present during this season.

For some time I have interacted with two writers and one editor online. In fact, I would go so far to say we forged cyber-friendships never knowing what lay beyond emails and comments.

Like the three windows shown here, we cannot see what is on the other side of the window panes. We can only imagine.

Likewise, we could see a computer screen and send messages to one another. Beyond screens and words, we knew very little about each other. We had no way of knowing the authentic person on the other side of the screen.

Summer 2014 has changed all that, and it has been a rewarding and special time.

First off, in June, I met writing friend and mentor, Sharon Lippincott, in real time in Lake Oswego, a suburb of Portland, OR. We shared a couple of hours and coffee at St. Honore Bakery as we talked writing and memoir, husbands, health, travel, technology, and yes, children and grandchildren! Sharon and her husband, Parvin, were in town to attend their granddaughter’s high school graduation.

Sharon blogs at The Heart and Craft of Life Writing, a reservoir of excellent information for those wanting to write life stories and/or/memoir. Sharon also is co-founder and host of Life Writers Forum, an online gathering place for writers to meet others interested in life story writing and memoirs. Additionally, the forum is a base for exchanging writing tips and other writing-related information.

Sharon has written several books, which are available via Amazon.

Next up was a real encounter with Candace Johnson of Change It Up Editing. Candace has a vast background in working with traditional publishers, self-publishers, and independent book packagers. She has assisted clients with nonfiction subject matter ranging from memoirs to alternative medical treatments and self-help as well as reality based novels and more traditional fiction genres.

A few weeks ago I telephoned Candace to talk over the possibility of contracting for editorial services when the time arrives. While on the phone, she reminded me that she and her partner spend some part of the summer in Portland. We agreed to meet up for lunch or coffee during that time, and we did!

Last Thursday Candace and I met at The Dragonfly Coffee Shop at 1:30 and finally decided at 4pm we had solved as many of the world’s problems as we had time for that day. We had also run the gamut of conversation expected between an editor and a writer. Along the way, we also managed to talk about the places we have lived, jobs we have worked, books we’ve read or are reading, our children, the men in our lives, our favorite spots in Portland, and more.

If these two materializations were not enough, this past Sunday my husband and I attended our first worship service in a Mennonite Church. You might ask why, and I will tell you it’s fairly plain and simple.

A third online acquaintance, writer and mentor Shirley Hershey Showalter was preaching at Portland Mennonite Church that morning. Shirley had invited us to attend providing not only the opportunity to hear Shirley’s message but also for us to meet face-to-face. And we did!

You may or may not know that Shirley and her husband, Stuart, are currently traveling the west coast south to north on Amtrak’s Coast Starlight. Their trip is shown on Shirley’s events page as “The BooktourAnniversary Palooza Amtrak 30-Day Pass on Coastal Starlight and Empire Builder Trains.” Their travels are so described as this year marks Shirley and Stuart’s 45th wedding anniversary and along the way they make stops for Shirley to speak or preach or read from her recent memoir, Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets a Glittering World.

Meeting Shirley and Stuart was a high point of our Sunday. An extra blessing was the palpable warmth and love of the members of Portland Mennonite Church, an experience I would not have wanted to miss.

I could have flown around the world or taken a 30-day cruise, and neither would have been as gratifying having the opportunity to meet these three cyber-friends, up until now, within a four-week period.

And to Sharon, Candace and Shirley, thank you for taking time from busy schedules to meet up with me face-to-face, real-time, for encounters of the BEST kind!

When you are travelling, do you ever think about folks you’ve connected with online and the possibility of meeting them face-to-face? I highly recommend it!

How to Sell Your Memoir: 12 Steps to a Perfect Book Proposal by Brooke Warner | A Review — December 2, 2013

How to Sell Your Memoir: 12 Steps to a Perfect Book Proposal by Brooke Warner | A Review

Image via Goodreads
Image via Goodreads

How to Sell Your Memoir: 12 Steps to a Perfect Book Proposal

By: Brooke Warner
Publisher: She Writes Press
Published: October 25, 2013
Genre: Nonfiction
Source: Author

Synopsis: How to Sell Your Memoir: 12 Steps to a Perfect Book Proposal offers memoirists an easy-to-follow formula to create a winning book proposal that will attract agents and editors. Brooke Warner is a former acquiring editor and current publisher who breaks the nonfiction proposal into three editorial components and three marketing components. This ebook includes a section about platform-and an explanation of why memoirists need one and how they can build one-as well as real samples from authors who have sold their memoirs to traditional publishers off their proposals. Find easy-to-follow templates and smart tips for navigating agents and publishers, along with best practices memoirists can’t afford not to know!

(Synopsis from Goodreads)

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My Thoughts:

With a memoir well on its way to completion, I’ve been muddling over what does a writer does once the manuscript is complete, when you believe it’s really ready for the hands of a publisher.

When the opportunity arose to review Brooke Warner’s newly released book, How to Sell Your Memoir: 12 Steps to a Perfect Book Proposal, I signed on to help spread the word about it. Little did I know that a majority of my questions would be answered while I read the book.

Warner succinctly and with clarity provides a step-by-step guide to what a memoirist needs to do in order to place his/her manuscript on the correct pathway to publication. Leaving nothing to chance, she provides tips set apart in such a way that it is easy to thumb back through the book and easily spot them. Here’s an example similar to what you’ll find in Warner’s book:

TIP: THINK OF YOUR BOOK PROPOSAL LIKE A BOOK REPORT YOU WOULD HAVE DONE IN GRADE SCHOOL. IT NEEDS A TITLE PAGE AND A TABLE OF CONTENTS SO THE READER OF THE PROPOSAL KNOWS WHAT THEY CAN EXPECT TO FIND, AND SO THEY CAN SKIP AHEAD IF THERE’S SOMETHING SPECIFIC OF INTEREST TO THEM.

Additionally, Warner provides other best practices information with each chapter. These are extremely well written and easily understood. Samples of each phase are provided, including query letter, components of proposal, marketing research, etc.

Sprinkled along the way are resources Warner believes beneficial to the writer new to the marketing and publishing aspects of book publishing.

Her writing and format are both good examples of what agents and publishers will likely be looking for.

Considering the short length, 88 pages of text and tips, Warner answers all of my questions to date and has demystified the issues of platform, query letters, book proposals and more.

My Recommendation:

I cannot recommend this book strongly enough for people writing memoir who may be reaching that point where issues surrounding marketing and publishing begin to come into focus. This is by far one of the best examples of a “how to” book which clearly maps out the process for you.

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Meet the Author:

Image via Amazon
Image via Amazon

Brooke Warner is the founder and president of Warner Coaching Inc., where she specializes in helping writers get published. She is also the publisher of She Writes Press. In her thirteen years in the publishing industry, including seven-plus years as an acquiring editor at Seal Press, Brooke shepherded over 500 books through the publication process. Her expertise is in traditional and new publishing, and she is an equal advocate for publishing with a traditional house and self-publishing. Brooke’s website, www.warnercoaching.com, is the recipient of an award from the Association of Independent Authors for Best Website for Independent Authors. She sits on the board of the National Association of Memoir and She Writes. What’s Your Book? is her first book and she’s proud to be publishing on She Writes Press. Warner lives in Berkeley, California, and works remotely with clients nationally and internationally.

Other places to connect with Brooke Warner:

Facebook: facebook.com/warnercoaching Twitter: @brooke_warner She Writes blog: http://www.shewrites.com/profiles/blog/list?user=1resr57ciyxus YouTube: youtube.com/warnercoaching Pinterest: pinterest.com/warnercoaching

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Related articles

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UP NEXT: Coming soon we’ll take a look at how to choose stories you’ll include in your memoir. 

Beta Readers’ List of Don’ts | Writers’ Expectations (Part 2 of 2) — August 27, 2013

Beta Readers’ List of Don’ts | Writers’ Expectations (Part 2 of 2)

Last week I posted on what beta readers do. This week we’ll take a look at what they don’t do and what writers expect of a beta reader.

* * *

In the last post we determined what beta readers are not:

Beta readers are not fish, or fishy! By Kingloovr (modified) via Wikimedia Commons
Beta readers are not fish, or fishy! By Kingloovr (modified) via Wikimedia Commons
  • A beta reader is not related to the fish of the same name, i.e. beta or betta.
  • Nor is a beta reader a part of any alphabet, Greek or otherwise, and he or she has no need for membership in The National Beta Club.
  • And we eliminated any relationship to any star in any constellation or in chemistry compounds.

The write-beta reader partnership is a unique relationship. It is an agreement to carry out a set of instructions provided by the writer.

The point of the work effort is for the beta reader to see with a different set of eyes what the writer’s work looks like to an outside reader.

That being said, each party to this relationship has certain responsibilities. From the earlier post, we know what beta readers do. Now let’s look at what beta readers don’t do:

  • Don’tmake insensitive comments. Attacking the writer is not requested or required of you.
  • Don’tgive your own opinion of how you would write the book. How the book finishes is the writer’s prerogative and decision. Not yours.
  • Don’tlimit your reaction to a list of “here’s what you need to do.” Also give comments on what you enjoyed, what moved you, what you thought was well done. We all respond to positives, and the writer needs to hear these.
  • Don’ttake it personally if your suggestions and/or comments are not incorporated. Here again the writer is in charge of the finished product and therefore, h/she has the right to choose which beta reader suggestions make it into the book.
  • Don’tassume the writer has passed along every bit of information you need. Ask questions if you need to clarify a point on your list of responsibilities to the writer. It never hurts to ask.

And let’s not forget that the writer requesting help from a beta reader also has responsibilities. In order to have expectations met, a writer needs to offer clear and concise instructions. 

Attribution: Hakan Dahlstrom via Fotomedia
Attribution: Hakan Dahlstrom via Fotomedia

A writer will expect to receive the following from a good beta reader:

  • Expect to look beyond family and friends to enjoy a completely unbiased and fair assessment of your project. If you are comfortable with using family or friends, that is a personal choice, but not highly recommended.
  • Expect both positive comments and some suggested “areas of improvement.” If you believe your work is perfect, do not engage a beta reader. Remember, every work could use improvement.
  • Expect to feel some emotional reaction, perhaps any negativity, on reading your beta reader’s comments. This is perfectly normal. Have some dark chocolate, a cup of coffee. Go for a stroll in the park. Release that initial tension.
  • Expect an urge to respond to the reader right away. STOP! No knee jerk reactions should send you to the keyboard to type out an email or to write a blog post about a bad beta reader. Set aside the comments for a day or two or more. When you feel ready, pick them up again and read them. And remember you wanted an honest opinion. Perhaps a calmer you will see that your reader has some good points, and perhaps you’ll begin to think of ways you want to respond.
  • Expect your beta reader to help you make your story better. The beta reader is not in place to “fix” your story. After all, he or she is not a ghost writer. You handed off your baby to see what other eyes could see. Now that you have responses in hand set about thanking your readers and revising that manuscript.
  • Expect and be ready to give your beta reader certain information about your project.
    • How far along you are, i.e. fourth or fifth draft or more.
    • What kind of review you want, i.e. broad or detailed with specific requests.
    • Your genre, i.e. memoir, fiction, etc. Although your reader may not write in your genre, knowing the genre helps to know what to be aware of while reading.
    • Specific time frame for turnaround, i.e. 4-6 weeks. Pssst! Beta readers have lives too. Be respectful here.
    • Software you are using and decide how you will receive your comments, i.e. track changes or in a document format.
    • Reciprocity, i.e. will you read for this reader when the time comes or will you perhaps exchange another skill. Whatever you decide, remember to follow through!

If you have read both posts, you should have a good overview of what beta readers do and don’t do and what writers’ expectations are.

As a writer, do you have expectations not mentioned here. Or as a beta reader, is there something you’d like to comment on with respect to-dos and don’ts? 

Today, Porter Anderson has the last word on this topic:

“You see a lot of ‘I love my beta readers!’ traffic online, which is heartening. But as in the case of good editing, strong pre-publication reading needs to offer insightful reaction and guidance. Encouragement is great. Actual evaluation is better. The best work at this stage of a project is less about supportive community and more about critique.” ~ Porter Anderson on Publishing Perspectives

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NEXT UP: Knowing When It’s Time to Take a Breather coming up on Thursday, August 29th.

Beta Readers | How They Function (Part 1 of 2) — August 20, 2013

Beta Readers | How They Function (Part 1 of 2)

Today I am posting the first of two parts on beta readers covering specifically what beta readers do. In the second part, I’ll look at what they don’t do and what writers’ expectations of beta readers are. 

* * *

When you hear the word “beta,” what comes to mind? I usually think of the Greek alphabet as beta is its second letter, β. A jog down memory lane occurs at the sound of “beta” as I was a member of The National Beta Club in high school.

Then there is the word “Beta” with a capital “B” meaning the second brightest star in a constellation. And we can move on to chemistry where it means the second in any series or one of the possible compounds in an atom.

White betta splendens By Kingloovr via Wikimedia
White betta splendens By Kingloovr via Wikimedia

And, of course, there is the beta fish, sometimes spelled betta, an often savage and warrior-like fish sold in pet stores. Our son raised some of these in his teens, and their beauty does not make up for their rude personalities.

None of these definitions, however, explains the benefit of a beta reader to a writer.

A beta reader reviews a writer’s manuscript elements such as plot development, character descriptions and motivations, general readability, grammar, and logical inconsistencies. The writer may ask the beta reader to do all these things or limit the read to certain specific elements.

Note that beta reading is the step coming before the pre-publication edit done by someone with excellent professional editing skills.

With that definition in mind, what should a writer expect a beta reader to do?

Following are several steps requested by writers for whom I have performed beta reading and what I would expect, as a writer, for a beta to do for me:

WHAT A BETA READER DOES:

  • Reads the manuscript through for fun. That’s right — I said FUN! During this reading, a beta reader should get lost in the story or in the purpose if reading a nonfiction book. After all, this allows the reader to report back accurately on how the book may or may not be received by the reading public. Here, the reader captures a general feel for the story line and characters, while looking for any issues that disturb the reader’s ability to follow the story. Example: A character mentioned on a page 121 as having done a particular thing suddenly appears, when the reader doesn’t recall having met that character in the earlier 120 pages.
  • Performs a second reading and focuses on specifics requested by the writer, making notes along the way. Recently, a writer requested what I call a “thorough” read, i.e. reviewing the elements above (see definition), and additionally based on my comments back to her, she queried me about some changes she was considering. Another writer pointed out she wasn’t looking for copy edits or proofing and provided a concise list of what she did want me to do. Each writer will have a particular process for moving the book toward publication. Each one will present a beta reader with different needs and requests.
  • Tells the writer when a particular character resonates with her or if a scene is especially moving. We all need to know when something is working well, and it costs us nothing to share the goodness along with the potential criticisms and errors that might be found and included in a reader’s response back to a writer. A good beta reader begins and ends his opinions with some of these good points and positives.
  • Makes personal observations as “asides,” if appropriate. These comments are helpful only if the writer understands they are not a part of your recommendations/feedback and are your personal reactions and feelings. Let’s say a particular character behaves in such a way you feel sorry for him. Tell the writer about the empathetic response you feel toward this character and why. Perhaps the writer did not intend the character to come across in this way. The reader’s personal reaction highlights this issue and in making this comment, the reader has alerted the writer so changes may be made. Or perhaps a certain scene wasn’t working for you. Passing this along with a good explanation will be helpful to the writer in reviewing that scene.
  • Points out issues not included in writer’s requests, when suitable.  If the reader notices an issue not included in the writer’s requested actions, it is permissible to it in the feedback. Example:Perhaps POV wasn’t included in the list. Suddenly, the writer is switching back and forth between first and third person. Or it takes too long at the beginning of the book to sense any action. Here come’s the test of a goodbeta reader — the ability to be as tactful and diplomatic as anyone serving as the U.S. Ambassador to a foreign country. The reader is respectful in explaining what he discovered and why it is included it in the feedback provided. And this is the perfect segue into the next point.
  • Presents in a considerate, tactful and diplomatic manner recommendations and feedback. This is an area where the reader should not be too direct or action-oriented in choosing words in preparing his opinions. A good beta reader makes suggestions, not directions, instructions or complaints. Recommendations or comments sent back to a writer should not produce negative reactions on the part of the writer.
  • Sits on recommendations, comments and/or feedback for at least two days before sending to the writer. This allows the reader time to step away and then re-read the work product. The reader can then assess her reactions if it were her work being read and commented on: Does anything raise negativity? Is anything too harsh? Are comments clear and to the point? How would I feel reading these comments about my work?

The beta reader and writer relationship is different from almost any other writing relationship and where it comes in the process of a writing project and how it performs depends on what the writer wants from the beta reader and what the reader is capable of offering. As in any working relationship, this is negotiable between the parties.

What I have offered today is based on my own opinions and beta reading process seeded in what I would expect from a beta reader if it were my book being read and what I want to give to writers who seek me out as a beta reader.

Let’s close this post with a couple of quotes on beta readers:

“Basically, the more eyes the book goes through before publication, the fewer issues
you will have later; and hopefully, the better the reviews are.”

Joanna Penn, Writer, Speaker and Blogger

“Beta readers provide us with differing viewpoints and show us flaws
in our own work that we were incapable of seeing ourselves.”

~ Chuck Sambuchino, Writer and Editor

(Quotes from WOW! Women on Writing article)

Part 2 of this two-part post will appear here on Tuesday, August 27th. Hope to see you back for what beta readers don’t do and what writers expect from beta readers.