Self-publishing is not that bad. You keep 70% proceeds of what you sell, instead of <10% in case of trad published authors. And if you know your genre, know at least a few books like yours which are doing well, then you can market your book to that known audience and make money. A trad publisher is looking for the same thing.
I use betas for different things. While I write, I usually have at least a couple of betas for reactionary feedback. They are usually the same age and have the same genre preferences as my target group and read as I write.
Then I have one or two betas while I edit to ensure that the changes work and make sense. They have usually read the 1st draft already and answer specific questions about the changes.
Then I have a beta or two to read the final version while the books are already with the ARC readers for last minute feedback and changes.
One of the things I notice that picking the right beta depends a lot on what type of feedback you are looking for. Betas who read outside their usual genre often aren’t able to provide quality feedback (not because they aren’t competent, but they don’t know the genre rules). There are certain boxes authors have to check with respect to plot elements to appeal to a certain audience, and if you don’t hit those boxes, you could end up with a bad review, even if your betas loved the stories.
However, if you look for character arc feedback or plot holes, fellow authors or betas with editing experience might be the better option. It really depends on at what stage of your writing they are involved.
Exactly. We should only ask for feedback from betas who know the genre, because ultimately they’re the readers we are targeting. Readers who buy books in a particular genre are not (only) looking for good writing, they are looking for a story that satisfies their expectations. For instance a romance reader wants to feel the butterflies, they want some conflict along the way but they want it to end happily. There are some exceptions to the happy ending rule (hero dies) but the ending is still romantic where the hero proves his love even in death. If these expectations are met, they can forgive a few grammar issues. But they won’t buy from an author who doesn’t fulfill their genre expectations.
So we need to be clear what kind of feedback we’re expecting. If it’s related to flow, grammar etc, anybody who knows how to write will be able to provide useful feedback. But if you want to know whether the book will appeal to an agent (who specializes in that genre) or a reader (who buys books in that genre), get a beta who understands the genre.
So, scrap the beta!
I spent a weekend away in a lovely cabin on the ocean all by myself! And you would not believe the rollercoaster of emotions I went on there, related to my story.
I sat down with all the notes from the conference, all the issues that I wanted to fix after sharing my pitch, etc. (which I thought I could ‘fix as I go’ while dispersing a chapter a week to my beta-readers) and…
Good news: I figured out a solution to a long-standing problem in my story.
Bad news: I need to entirely rewrite my story from scratch!
I’m kind of horrified and kind of excited. I won’t get into the details about why, but believe me, I’ve searched my soul to know if this was the best solution, and I believe it is. It’s also a common practice in the industry, and I am not alone. I feel that rewriting will take much less time than fixing, and I believe I will have a much more seamless, well-told story at the end.
I’ve been here before–it’s a good place to travel to. Crossing my fingers you find all the inspiration, passion and motivation your need to make this “soul project” of your a reality! Muah!
Sounds heavy… I hope it all works out the second time around!
This is certainly a tough decision, but if you once reach this point, it’s always best to follow your gut (or your heart ) and plunge into the rewrite.
I’ve done it more than once, for fictional stories and real life stuff, and it’s far more rewarding to look at the finished result later than to have the feeling you could have done better - for all the time to come.
I wish you all the best with the endeavour, unlimited energy and the spark that makes your story shine…
You have my greatest respect for that. Rewriting is a beast. I’ve now done it three times for the attic, and while hard, I can agree with you - you will tell a better story. You will be proud of it. It still takes courage and effort and determination!!! But you can and will do it
That sounds lovely! I admire your dedication. Never quit! Pretty much every successful writer out there talks about pushing through criticism and failure in the beginning.
I have to remind myself of that on a daily basis. And also, not everyone will like how I write. There are books my daughter loves that I can’t stand and vice versa. We can’t please everyone.
You could contact some reviewers on Goodreads who extensively read and review dystopian sci-fi (not sure if it’s the correct genre). Just follow them for a while, comment on their reviews, chat and then bring it up and ask for their opinion. Do they like the story idea? If yes, rewrite. If not, rewriting might not fix it. Think of a new idea.
I appreciate all of your support!
I’m actually excited for this. When I sit down with what I’ve written and try to figure out how to fix everything that I feel is wrong, I feel sick about it and don’t even want to look at it.
When I think about a blank page, a strong outline, a roadmap (the previous attempt), then I feel excited and like I could go anywhere. The world is my oyster!
When I first told the story, I didn’t have an outline, and I didn’t even know where the story was going to go. I had characters and a concept. I had a scene in my head. After that, I was just flying by the seat of my pants.
I’ve paid for that now, but it’s worth every bump in the road because I wouldn’t be where I am now if I didn’t get that first idea on the page.
But this time, I know exactly where I want to go. It feels exhilarating. My goal is to tell the best story that delights my audience while remaining true to my story.
You’re right, you are definitely not starting from scratch…You have a lot of pointers from all the industry pros and from your fellow authors, and your previous attempt is a solid foundation for your rewrite. All the best!
It seems like you definitely found some missing link. You’re so enthusiastic!
All the best for the rewrite, Shalon May the force be with you. You have us to support you. No matter what =]
Who all is taking part in NaNoWriMo?
I can only dream of this amount of writing time… guess this will have to wait till retirement. Like so many other things.
NaNo is a NoNo for me, lol! I struggle to write 10K words ina month, let alone 50K!!
It takes me two weeks to finish a 2K word chapter (when I’m working). There’s no way I could write 50K+ in a month!
Haha! Me too. I can barely meet half the word count…
I’m participating in nano, but not expecting to win. I just like to participate in the community because it’s a good way to get to know people. You don’t actually need to get 50K to participate. You just need to get 50K to win…
I’ve participated a few times and never won. I think it’s a crazy amount of writing.
On a good note, I’ve finished the fist 15K of my book! It’s 90% new writing, and just a smattering of the old draft. I’m pretty stoked to be on target to finish the rewrite by the end of November. It might not be a nano-win, but it will definitely be a Shalon-win!