Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Adventures in Beta Reading

I haven't blogged much the last few days because I was beta reading for a blogging/Twitter buddy and omigosh, I loved her book. I can't wait until that thing is in print so I can write up a review on Goodreads!

I almost didn't do it. In fact, I almost emailed her to say, Sorry, but you should find someone else. I mean, I'm not published. I don't have an agent yet. What made me think I was qualified to critique her book?

Of course, this was just that same old fear in a different form, the fear that I'm not good enough. I'm so glad I didn't listen to that nasty bugger because I totally enjoyed reading and commenting on her book.

And here's the thing with being a beta reader. The emphasis is on reader. The fact that I write makes me notice things the average reader might not key in on. But really, my job is to ask questions, to point out things that confuse me or just aren't logical for the character. And, like, if there's like, too many repeating words, I try to like highlight those.

I also try to point out things that make me smile or laugh out loud, and especially things that surprise me. I've read a lot of books. So there are certain plot points that I see coming a mile away. When a writer can surprise me with a twist that I didn't see coming, I'm in love. This writer surprised me, more than once. I am in awe.

So when she sent me this email, I almost cried:

Thank you SO much!

Seriously, I don't think I've ever read a crit that I agreed with EVERYTHING in... I seriously think I've only not done ONE thing you suggested so far, and it was something silly... like a comma somewhere or something...Qualified to read my little book HAHA! You caught things that BOTH of my agents have missed... that's pretty impressive if I do say so myself!

And bless her heart, she's offered to return the favor for me and my little book. Have I mentioned recently how much I love the blogging community?

22 comments:

MeganRebekah said...

I love beta reading for this reason! It's so inspiring when you read something amazing, and when you know you can help someone make a great book spectacular.

(and of course now I'm dying to know whose amazing book you read...)

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

I agree with Megan (especially since she's one of my awesome Betas). It is inspiring and sounds like you've found a great match. :)

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

What a wonderful story, Sherrie! I'm glad you found a good beta partner. I've read two books for people I met blogging and the experience was the same for me. I loved reading them, and the writers were both open to my comments. It is a delightful perk of this blogging life, I think.

Mother Hen said...

What A good thing you have done. I must say, you are right about the blogging world. I have found some really inspiring things just from your blog. Thank you for opening up my English country writing world :)

beckylevine.com said...

Yay for you! And yay for her for being HAPPY to get all this! :)

Kelly said...

Beta reading is usually win/win! One gets to read a great book, the other gets helpful suggestions!
The blogging community is indeed awesome!

Lady Glamis said...

I love beta reading! And I know for a fact that you are an amazing beta reader. The help you gave me on Monarch was invaluable. Anyone who's lucky enough to procure you as a reader is one lucky person!

Janet Johnson said...

Very cool! Look forward to that someday. :)

~Jamie said...

That writer-girl sure knows what she's talking about. :P

Seriously girl... don't doubt yourself ANYMORE!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

This is so true, Sherrie. I have felt everything you have described - on BOTH sides, reader and writer. In fact, my post is a thank you to my CP's today! :-)

Kathi Oram Peterson said...

Comments from the author make the time you gave up to critique worth it. I love my beta readers!

JEM said...

What a cool hook up (platonically speaking, of course). I'm getting close to needing some beta readers, so this is inspiring me to get out in the community even more.

Jamie Grey said...

Beta readers are the best! I'm glad you were able to go ahead and give her the feedback - it sounds like it was very helpful! I think we all question our abilities some times, especially when it comes to things we're passionate about. But it's good to push through those doubts and see we're wrong :)

Solvang Sherrie said...

Megan: It was really inspiring because here is a writer who's novel had me more engaged than some of the books on my nightstand! I was truly impressed.

Karen: You and Megan are lucky to have found each other. I'm glad I took the chance too :)

Tricia: I just keep finding more of these perks to blogging!

Mother Hen: I'm glad you've found inspiring stuff here. Welcome!

Becky: Do you remember how nervous I used to get over critiquing?! Yeah, funny what a year can do :)

Kelly: It's like getting a sneak peek even before the ARC is available! I love it!

Michelle: Your book was the first time I did a full scale beta read. I'm so glad it was helpful for you. It was for me too!!

Janet: It is something to look forward too :)

Jamie: I'll always have to wrestle with doubt. But all these lovely comments -- I'm starting to well up again...!

Shannon: It's an amazing adventure, isn't it?

Kathi: The author's response really does make it worthwhile. I was terrified right after I sent it, hoping I'd done a good job for her. So yeah, I was really glad to get her message!!

JEM: Writers who blog are a treasure trove. This community never ceases to amaze me. I'm sure you'll find some great readers.

Jamie: Self-doubt can be so hard to overcome. But I'm always glad when I take the chance and find out I didn't need to doubt myself.

Laura Pauling said...

That's awesome. Beta reading is a special experience. Much different than critting chapter by chapter. I'm glad you were able to help out!

T. Anne said...

Wow are you for hire? You sound amazing! Perhaps a second calling??

Suzanne Casamento said...

I love your post! You've inspired me. I'm hoping to get a draft of my WIP done soon and I was thinking of asking blogger buddies to be beta readers. Your experience makes me feel more confident.

Natalie said...

I love beta reading too. It's more fun sometimes to read someone else's work and try to help them make it better than it is to write my own stuff.

And from the letter, it sounds like you have beta SKILLS.

Katie said...

Oh that is a treasure indeed to find a good beta or to BE one like yourself!

Kudos!

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I always feel heartbroken when I beta read a book I love and it ends up going nowhere.

It definitely helps to have beta reader who are writers, even if they aren't published. They know enough to question things that need fixing.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Finding a good partner to swap crits with is like GOLD! So happy for you and your friend.

And I think all readers bring fresh eyes and perspective to a piece. Good for you for being willing to tackle it! :)

Kelly H-Y said...

Wow ... that is so awesome! Nicely done! Now I want to know who it was and what you read!! :-)

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