Tuesday, July 31, 2012

What I Learned From My Beta Readers

Meet three of my betas: Rona, Me, Donna and Lauryn
     Meet my Beta Readers!!!
     This wonderful group of women are all dear to my heart, and I'd love to brag on them for a bit. Not only have they given their time and advice, they have been a non-stop source of encouragement and support to me. These 8 readers range from age 75 to age 23, are college educated, and all but one are avid readers of the romance genre.

Yes I know what you're thinking . . . so I'll go ahead and say it . . . I struck gold with this bunch of ladies!!!!!
As you can see they are all beautiful. In fact the black and white picture was sent because the group were undergoing Mary Kay facials and no one had on make-up. So funny!
More beautiful betas include: Darlene, Delayne, Diana, Natalie and Andrea 

What I Learned From my Betas:
At our critique party the betas gathered in my living room for a round-table discussion of the book. Each betas had listed their answers ahead of time on a worksheet. During the discussion, my beta reader, Delayne took notes for me on her computer and did an outstanding job. Here's a summary of what they said:

  • Scenes to keep: The betas took turns listing the scenes that resonated with them. One scene was consistently listed as a favorite and I couldn't have been more shocked. In this scene the hero and heroine are riding double on horseback when they are caught in a terrible rain/hail storm. The betas praised the description of this scene, so I knew I had to keep it in the book.Various other scenes touched various beta's hearts and I made a tally sheet of all they mentioned as favorites. All of these will probably stay in the book.
  • Scenes to alter or change: Once scene bothered two betas as being too intimate too soon into the story. The heroine comforts the hero when he breaks down and ends up on his lap. Others liked it, but during the discussion we all agreed the same tender effect of the scene could be achieved in a different way.We also spent time discussing scenes that could be cut. In one scene, I had my hero daydreaming during a board meeting about the first kiss he'd shared with the heroine the night before. I loved the scene, but it was cut since it didn't propel the plot. 
  • Errors and problems: This was so enlightening, because the betas caught a lot of things I hadn't thought about. Number one on the list of things that bothered my betas, was my villain was not nearly as threatening or evil as expected from the set-up. In addition, they didn't feel the villain's blackmail scheme was solid enough to do any real damage.The second topic brought to my attention was too much "hot and cold" plotting between the hero and heroine. However, the betas admitted it kept them reading. One wise beta commented , "Frustrate your characters, not your readers." A few, very honest betas admitted that the religious aspects of the book were too heavy-handed. The prayers and religious discussion were too long and needed to be condensed. Another beta pointed out a security breach on the hero's property that I had overlooked. A few readers voiced concern that the heroine never bothered to call the police for anything. "If she's so smart, why doesn't she report this guy." Well, believe me, my heroine is much smarter in the revisions and so am I.

What I've Received From My Betas: 
I'll admit it took a certain amount of courage to share my "baby" with the rest of the world. Two years of my life were in that manuscript and I didn't know if I had what it takes to be a writer or not. I had written a story I would like to read, but I didn't know if it would resonate with others. During the March-June process, I learned the truth. The payoff far outweighs the risk.  Here's the gifts my betas gave to me:

Unbridled enthusiasm and on-target advice: From the start, the readers were excited to be a part of the critique process. When I sent chapters in emails, their sweet comments and excitement about the next installment kept me smiling. Their eagerness to help still astounds me. Because of their honest comments and suggestions, I am busy revising and I can tell the book is already better.

Encouragement and support: During the three months the betas were reading, we would cross paths at parties and gatherings.They were so eager to talk about the portions of the book they had read. Discussions involved actors and actresses they saw in the movie of my book. Movie??? One beta wrote, "I’m ready for it to be made into a movie.  The scenes would be spectacular—at least all that my mind imagines…. I am so enjoying your story." Wow, that was encouraging shot in the arm.

 Free advance publicity: Although the betas "assignments" officially ended at the critique party, their support of the novel has not. This surprised the pants off me. At reunions, graduation parties, camping trips, Mary Kay parties, you name it . . . one of these betas will spread the word to anyone within earshot about my book. I sit there in blushing mess as they eagerly tell complete strangers about the book I've written. I don't have to bring up the topic, they do it for me. Their belief in me is so overpowering, I can't let them down. I can't be lazy and give up on this project. The betas have done their job, now I have to do mine. Where God leads, I will follow. Whatever happens, I know I'm not alone on this journey. My betas are watching . . . they are waiting . . .  they are praying for my success.

Your Turn: The gift of our Savior is the sweetest present of all, but there are other gifts too. What gift(s) have you received lately that didn't involve a gift bag or box? 


  1. What a great experience, Ava. I have loved hearing about your experience with your beta readers and think it is such a blessing you have such a great support group! I can't wait to see what God is going to do through your writing!!!

  2. Thanks, Sherrinda, I'm so glad you've enjoyed the series. I'm interested, too, in seeing what God has up His sleeve.

  3. The gift of encouragement and people believing in me. That's just...immeasurably awesome.

    And everyday, the gift of God's patience with me. :)

    Loved hearing what you learned from your betas, Ava!

  4. I was so blessed and encouraged by the entire experience. Now I'm scurrying to nail down those revisions.

  5. These ladies sound wonderful! I think this was the coolest idea ever. Kudos to you for putting your work out there and being teachable!

  6. Thanks, Jessica. I am ever a WIP myself. The more I learn the more I learn I don't know!


Thank you for visiting my blog site.I'd love to read your comments