Today I thought I'd write a short post on how readers play into my editing process. Kind of a history of how other people have helped me edit my work. I defined some of the terms for this earlier, in my definition post, so hopefully it'll be easy to keep up.
Authors write for themselves. That is an immortal eternal truth. If we didn't, it'd get really annoying very quickly. We write because we love it, because we need it. We live in a world where writing is our purpose, our escape, and our way of seeing the world. However, most authors want to create something bigger with their work. They want to turn this writing that they so love into something that will have a greater purpose in the world.
That's where readers come in.
I've already worked with a number of readers, primarily to help me improve my work. Right from my first novel, I was eager to have others read what I'd written. My best friends at the time all got their read, along with another girl who wanted to give it a try. Since then, that system has remained fairly standard. (With THE CHOSEN FOUR series, I did actually end up with quite a few readers--my fan base had grown, so to speak--and since then I've pulled back. There is such a thing as too many editors. Better to save it for the final, published version. *wink*)
This group of people are my beta readers: basically, a couple of my best friends, who have read all of my work so far, and whomever else first requests a read. Each long-term beta reader has a specific area that they're good at critiquing for me, which is why they've stuck around. The one-book readers are good for balance, to be sure those who have edited every book aren't overly biased and such. Everyone's sworn to secrecy, of course, and I'm not giving out their names in case crazy readers try to track them down and steal their knowledge, haha.
When I became a part of the online writing community through the Write It! boards, I began my experience with what are known as alpha readers. These are the readers who go chapter by chapter as the book is written to critique the growing story. This can be somewhat hard to work with because it doesn't give the full story view, but it has a lot of use. Since I left Write It!, my alpha readers have mostly gone away, but I still post a few chapters of works in progress on my Figment site for anyone wanting to do some work on the intro!
After the first few books, I also started working with what I guess you could call gamma readers. Basically, late in the editing process, I'd turn over the book to my family. My brother Nathan has read a few, only the ones that have interested him. He's not much of a reader, but I appreciate his reads. I've also begun recording audiobooks, basically, for my mom, who doesn't have time to read but really likes audiobooks. She gives a lot of good critique.
When I've finally gotten to the point in editing where I'm ready to send out a novel, I send it to my critique partner Julia, who I is a writer of similar style and experience whom I met through Write It! We exchange our novels and work on queries and synopses together. She'll read and do an in-depth edit and reaction to my book, and then send it back for me to do a final edit.
The one time I was accepted by an agent, they became a midway editor, helping me edit further in order to fit their standards and gain a contract. That never pulled through, but it was a good experience nonetheless. After the agent, in a perfect world, would be the real editor, and then I suppose the copyeditor or proofreader, at a publishing house. Haven't gotten there yet, so I can't give you anything on that.
But that, in basis, summarizes why it takes a village to make a novel. I am so grateful to everyone who has been a reader for my works thus far, pushing me forward and helping me learn. A lot of you are probably reading this, so here's my thanks to you. :)
Thanks for coming around! Next time, I'll be doing a post on book/movie adaptations.
Have you ever been a reader for someone? If you're a writer, do you have special readers?
In other news, this is my new favorite Tumblr: Dating Tips from the Doctor.
Image via pixabay.com.
I'm an unpublished novelist, primarily of YA fantasy, and a freelance editor. I love psychology, cats, social justice, and love! I'm also a huge fangirl. More than anything, stories are my life.
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