The Rookie Self Publisher’s Best Friend

My venture into self-publishing has yielded some great lesson’s learned;  Use social media to help market your work and build a community, produce new material for that audience regularly, be diligent, be patient, write well.  But there is another lesson, of which, I thought I fully understood the importance.  Sometimes these things don’t fully register until you face them first hand.

So today, I salute you;  Mr. or Mrs. Beta Reader.

There is a stage in a writer’s development that is reached after he or she has been writing for a few years.  It can be a bit of a dangerous time for the writer.  Just as a Padawan who begins to get a grasp on the Force and can be tempted by the darkside, so too, can the lightly experienced writer be lured into complacency by the improved quality of their writing.

This week, I passed out a few copies of novelette, “Tully”, to a few readers.  This is a story I originally wrote 2 or 3 years ago.  I like it.  I gave it a quick pass through making corrections for the Kindle file, but I didn’t really read it.  The early consensus from the readers is it’s a good story, but there were some issues in the delivery.  None of things I’ve been told are things that will change the story…it’s all mechanical issues.

So far, one reader has returned the manuscript with their notes.  Looking over those notes I facepalmed myself on more than one occasion in a ‘did I really do that’ fashion.  It is, by no means, a broken manuscript.  But there were enough POV issues, passive voice construction, and just plain unclear writing, to give me pause and realize I need to dig into a backlist story much deeper before prepping the format for sale.

I’ve given the other reader’s carte-blanche to mark up the manuscript with whatever they think may be wrong, and I’m anxious to see if they’re criticisms are consistent.

Of course, the thing to remember about beta reader critiques is not all critiques are created equal.  A good many things may be subjective, and I more than likely won’t be making ALL of the corrections suggested.  However, if all readers point out the same issue, it may be something to give a serious look.

My advice to the unpublished writer deciding to self-publish:  Use beta-readers.  They can be your best friends.  A bonus would be a beta reader that happens to be well versed in grammar construction to point out those punctuation, sentence structure howlers that may plague your work and you not know it.  You don’t have to listen to everything they say, but they will give you good food for thought and as long as you don’t edit the life out of your story, the result can only be a better story.

A better story is what will sell, BTW.

See you next time.


About Thomas J. rock

Writer of Science Fiction

Posted on May 18, 2011, in The Daily Grind and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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