“Heritage Lost,” the working title of my SciFi novel, is currently out to three beta readers, and the response has been very favorable so far. It’s always good to hear comments like “This will be a quick sell” or “I found myself wishing these characters were real.” Not only that, but two are stating they would recommend it to people that they know who like science fiction — that in particular is a relief since “Heritage Lost” is my first foray into the genre, and I won’t lie, I found it to be very challenging. In fact, my one reader has her mother, a big Trekkie, chomping at the bit to read it!
This time around, with the beta reading process, I have two “removed” readers who knew very little or nothing about the novel beforehand and one reader who knows a little bit more about the nuts and bolts of the piece, but not too much. In the past, I’ve usually had one or two readers who were more informed with the piece, so the final outcome of having only “outsiders” look at the piece will be interesting. To top off the experience, I think all three are going to have very different views and likes — always nice to have in a beta reading setting since final product readers will always have differing options. So far, it’s definitely been fascinating to see how different my two further along readers (or guinea pigs) react to scenes and characters differently. It’s also been a good reminder that I’m writing for multiple readers, not just one.
One approach for in-depth feedback that I did this time around was purchase my local/first-to-finish beta reader a coffee and then sit down with her to get her thoughts on the manuscript. Our originally intended meet up place turned out to close early on Saturdays … same case with our second destination. With options limited, we ended up at McDonald’s. But there was still coffee so all was well. Once seated with our coffee, I went through this wonderful beta reader worksheet with her and sat and listened — scribbling down notes with my handy-dandy notebook — as she provided feedback.
It was a fun experience, and I would recommend doing it if your beta readers are local (and do it one-on-one, too many voices at once could get overwhelming, at least for an severe introvert like myself). For the non-local ones, besides taking their Word critiques, talk with them over the phone or Skype with them, because sometimes they will think of different critiques while talking with you directly. I have personally received many great critiques by directly speaking with a reader and asking different questions, which in return sparked ideas from the reader.
While I’ve received very favorable feedback with “Heritage Lost” so far, there is still work to be done on the manuscript — as is to be expected. Starting today, I’m hoping to start fixing the grammatical errors that have been caught and maybe start tweaking some areas of the story. Hopefully, by the time the tweaks are finished, all my beta readers will be done on their reads, leaving me only to finish final revisions, write a synopsis and then submit.