Someone other than me has finished reading my book

But I don’t know what they thought of it.  This waiting for Betas to read my book thing is killing me!

My buddy gave the book to his seventeen year old daughter and she finished it, but then she went back to school in another state and he hasn’t had a chance to ask her what she thought.  Good news, I guess, is she finished it.  She didn’t hand it back to him after a hundred pages and say something like, “Dad, your friends are weird.”  But I don’t know whether she liked it.

At least I’m starting to hear a few more trickles of feedback.  Two more of my Betas are about halfway through and still liking it.  They read the creepy sexual manipulator chapter and are still speaking to me and haven’t recommended psychological help.  And they did both agree the character in that chapter is slimy.  So, hopefully that means I struck the right balance there.

(This is like rejectomancy except worse.  I’m warning you now, I will not blog in detail about the agent search.  It will drive me and all y’all nuts.  Not to mention the potential to accidentally say something unprofessional is too high.)

(Quick aside – my first day at Rice on the back of The Thresher they had a little headline that said, “The plural of y’all is all y’all.”  Very helpful for a non-Texan like myself.)

One thing that has made me glad that I chose “readers” to Beta read for me as opposed to “writers” is that one of my Betas pointed out to me yesterday a trick I had tried to use that I think a writer might have understood, but that didn’t make sense to a reader.

One of my characters is new to the country and learning the language, which means he gets the language wrong at times.  And I wanted to point that out without making my readers cringe every time they read dialogue by the character.  Since those chapters are from the viewpoint of the foreigner, I had all of his dialogue read as normal.  He thinks he’s saying things right, so I wrote it that way.

To point out his grammar issues, I had one of the other characters who’s a bit sensitive to these things occasionally make comments like “sometimes listening to you speak is painful.”

What didn’t work for my reader was the following exchange:

“I gathered that.”

“It’s ‘I gathered’, not ‘Me gather’.”

My Beta didn’t understand why one character would tell someone to say what they had just said.  And, obviously, I won’t be sitting there with each reader to explain that it’s in that character’s viewpoint so to him he thinks he said “I gathered,” but what everyone else heard was “Me gather.”

And, yes, it’s a small issue, but anything that throws someone out of the story is bad.  It’s a chance for the reader to put the book down and not come back to it.  I asked this Beta to read for grammar, punctuation, etc. so she’s reading with a fine-toothed comb, but if none of my other Betas point it out I’ll go back to them and ask them what they thought of that little passage.  I expect most will have gone, “huh?” but just kept reading.

These are the little things that make Betas invaluable.  At least to me.

I just wish they’d hurry up and finish!

But I love them, really, and they can take as long as they like as long as they’re honest with what they think at the end of the day.

But, please, please, please finish!!

(I can say this because none of them read this blog.  Weirdo that I am, I still haven’t told anyone I know where to find it.  And the three that could figure it out have better things to do with their time. (I hope)  Like, oh, I don’t know, read my novel…)

About M. H. Lee

M.H. Lee is a speculative fiction writer currently residing in Colorado whose stories are sometimes dark, sometimes funny, sometimes darkly funny, but hopefully always thought-provoking and entertaining.
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