Silence replaces the steady click of the keys. Pain throbs in your shoulders and neck. Your eyes bulge and burn, itching to close and rest for a while. But you can’t sleep now. A grin skates across your face.
The last edit to that horrendous file on the screen that you refer to as your manuscript has finally come to pass. If you’re anything like me though, you dare not look back a few pages. GUARANTEED you will find something more. So what now?
Well, because you’re so absolutely sure that this is bound to be a bestseller, the next thing is testing that theory…
So you start out by giving it to your mom. What?! Mom?? Here’s the thing….if your mom is anything like my mom, or like most moms, she’s going to love it no matter what the storyline contains. You could have written a book about grass growing and she’d tell you it was thrilling. Remember that horrid sculpture you made back in 7th grade? You know, the one you prayed the art teacher wouldn’t display on the glass-encased shelf, labeled with your name on it for all your classmates to ridicule? Guess who has it now? That’s right, mom. And where is it? Sitting smack dab in the middle of her Waterford crystal collection as if it has any clout to do so.
The other problem with handing that MS over to mom?
“Hi mom, here’s my sexy, steamy paranormal ROMANCE novel. How bout if you just come right in and take a seat inside my dirty mind?”
I’m thinkin’ of the scene in the movie, She’s Having a Baby, while the couple is engaged in sex and the parents sit at the foot of the bed with miner’s helmets on, giving direction.
Do you really want mom to tell you what might sound hotter in this scene? *cough*
I don’t want to leave her out, especially since my mom gives great feedback. But we’ll just categorize her into the ‘totally biased’ group and leave it at that.
Well, I’ve spent YEARS trying to get people to read my stuff: chasing them around at backyard barbecues, hunting them down in coffee houses, begging at street corners. Okay, maybe I haven’t done any of these things, but it sure as hell feels like it. You’d think my manuscripts had teeth!
This time, I got lucky. Not sure if it’s because I picked the right topic, maybe I piqued someone’s interest with my mindless rambles…er, blogposts, or if my website was just too damn intriguing (thanks to my brilliant brother). I didn’t have to place a want ad for beta readers this time around. Four of them literally fell in my lap. And I know this is about as rare as four stars falling from the sky into my lap, so believe me, I am incredibly grateful for these ladies.
What makes them qualified to read my script? Well, that’s the interesting part. They all have different qualities that make them a great beta reader. Take a look:
Diana – she’s my spunky best friend as I’ve mentioned before. Princess Di? She happens to LOVE angels, and was part of the reason why I chose to write about them this time. Teaching is what she does for a living and she is somewhat of a stickler about grammar. But the best part? Lady Di is NOT a huge fan of romance novels. WHAT?! Seriously?? How could such a romantical person hate reading sappy romances? I dunno. But the first thing to go through my head when she offered to read it for me?? Ding ding ding!! Since she’s outside of my target, she’s the perfect beta. And, unlike a lot of best friends, she’s never held back her candor.
If I was hoping to get the ‘Keri, I’d rather have a root canal done without novocaine than read this shit’ feedback I’m looking for, this is my girl!
Amy – My punk-rock, no-nonsense, avid-reader who isn’t afraid to tell me I suck. Sure, she’s nice and sweet in her day job. But when this tattooed badass doesn’t like something, she ain’t afraid to say so. She’s been known to read incessantly and will finish a book in one sitting if it strikes her fancy. Goth is her style and pararomance is her genre of choice. If something isn’t ‘right’ about my demons or sounds too fluttery and flatidah, I can count on Amy to point it out. She’s smart as a whip and shuns the books that insult her intelligence.
Heather – Here is where my logic better be spot on. Heather doesn’t waste her time reading made-up 'BS’. She prefers non-fiction, particularly the historical stuff. But if she’s gonna pick up some fiction, it damn well better not be littered with a bunch of crap and contradictions. She can detect an inconsistency a mile away. Teasing out a plot is what she does best. Every author should have one of these readers because they tend not to get too wrapped up in the story, swooning over the alphas, to notice that you just mentioned a microwave in the early 1800’s.
Kandyce – Romance junkie extraordinaire. This woman has read just about everything out there and scours the bookshelves looking for more. From classic authors of the 1970’s to modern-day hardcore erotics, she’s seen it all. And talk about reading in one sitting! She’ll devour a novel in a couple of hours if it’s good enough. With an extensive knowledge in romance, she knows what works and what readers of this genre will hunt the night for. What’s important to Kandyce? Plot, tension, pacing, good character development…all the things we strive to achieve in writing, are exactly what this reader seeks out. The ability to immerse herself in the story and relate to the MC is an important attribute in the novels she reads. Better yet? She’s a feisty little pistol…meaning blatant honesty isn’t a problem for her.
So there they are – my betas. I feel so fortunate to have such a variety of backgrounds, reading my book from different perspectives. It’s a more comprehensive look at my characters, my storyline, my absolute lapse in logic…
I’m imagining you’re curious to know what my betas said about my book? Well, that’s for my own personal growth and development and I shan’t divulge that information. Sorry.
What I will say, is that each and every one of them have been hounding my ass to finish book 2. So I’m going to cut this blog post short, so that they don’t think I’m trying to stall. *Glances down at the chains binding me to the computer chair and the monkey at my feet armed with toothpicks*
My next step will be looking for the ultimate grammar Nazi. I know this certain someone is out there somewhere…dreaming beneath the same starry sky as I am. We shall meet. And when we do, my unspeakable lack of grammar skills will be…less apparent.
How do you find your beta readers?