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 in my definition post, so hopefully it'll be easy to keep up.
Authors write for themselves. That is an 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 escape and our way of understanding the world. However, most authors want to create something bigger out of their work. They want to turn this writing that they so love into something that will have a greater purpose and connect them to the rest of the world.
That's where readers come in.
I've already worked with a number of readers to help me improve my work. Right from my first book, I was eager to have others read what I'd written. My best friends at the time all got a read, along with another girl who wanted to give it a try. Since then, that system has remained fairly standard. (With #ChosenFourStory, I did actually end up with what I consider to be too many readers--my fan base had grown, so to speak--and since then I've pulled back. Sometimes too much feedback in the editing phase is unhelpful.)
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 a few others who have requested a read. Each long-term beta reader has a specific area that they're good at critiquing for me. The one-book readers are good for balance, to be sure those who have read every book aren't overly biased. Everyone's sworn to secrecy, of course.
When I became a part of the online writing community through the Write It boards, I had some experiences with what are known as alpha readers. These readers 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 provide the full story view, but it has a lot of use. Since I left Write It, I haven't had much alpha reading, but I still post a few chapters of WIPs on my Figment site for anyone wanting to critique the intro!
After the first few books, I also started working with what I guess you could call gamma readers: my own family, who aren't much for reading. Late in the editing process, I turn over the book to them. My brother Nathan has read a few, only the ones that have interested him.. 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 and best writing friend Julia, who 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 sort of 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 came through, but it was a good experience nonetheless. After the agent, in a perfect world, would be the main editor, and then I suppose the copyeditor or proofreader, at a publishing house. I haven't gotten there yet, so I can't give you anything on that.
But that, in basis, summarizes how 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. 😊
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