Hello all, beta reader gnome here.
I come to you kicking and screaming voluntarily in my hat and my feet firmly planted in the garden. Thankfully they have left my hands free so that I can pen this missive to you all. First, I’d like to address the question you all are inevitably asking and scheming about. No, you can’t become a beta reader by asking. I became a beta reader due to a blood pact I made with Will after we experienced an incident with a hippo and a hula hoop. I saved his life by sacrificing my hair, and this work was my reward. Yes, being a beta reader is work. While you all are racing to finish the book in 4 minutes, we have to meticulously pore over an unfinished and unpolished draft.
That is the actual first thing I’ll tell you all, what we actually do. I know it sounds all cool that I get the book earlier than everyone else, but really it’s only [some arbitrary percent] cool. Will’s a great writer, but sometimes he needs help to work out some rough patches in a draft. And you do that by getting feedback. That’s where I and my fellow readers come in. We read this rougher draft and we give feedback on it. There are no bloopers, sometimes Will just substitutes in a [scene goes here], and there’s even the occasional ape attack. That’s right, we sacrifice our first reads so you all can get a better one. Now don’t get me wrong, I love doing this. But there is some small part of me that wishes I could read that fresh, polished book like the rest of you.
So, let’s get into this feedback. My personal approach is to give both macro and micro feedback. I have chapter wrap-ups and whole book feedback, but I also note sections or moments that stick out to me in either a positive or negative way. Positive feedback is just as important as negative, Will needs to know what I liked as well as what didn’t work for me. I tend to focus on the overarching plot, character, and general story flow. I know you might be thinking “Wait! I don’t care about those things! What about the length of Lindon’s left pantaloons or how many times Lindon punches a clown!?” Don’t worry, there’s someone else for that! Will has multiple readers who cover all his bases, really, I guarantee you it’s all covered. However, that doesn’t mean we have absolute power over what Will ends up putting in the book. That brings me to the next topic.
In the end, Will is the final arbiter of what changes in the draft. He treats all of our feedback as suggestions and he should. Will shamelessly steals from Neil Gaiman and says, “A reader knows what they don’t like, but they don’t actually know how to fix it.” He’s right. At a certain point we just trust Will to know what’s best, and 99% of the time, he does. There were plenty of times where I suggested something that Will fixed in a wildly different and better fashion. We also don’t know everything behind the scenes either. Will doesn’t give us a “this is what this is alluding to” manual, so we’re as much in the dark about the future as the rest of you. We get these books one at a time. So if there is something in the interest of setting something up in future books, Will keeps it. In the end, Will knows what serves his stories best.
Finally, let’s get down to the real secrets. Where is Oz- Oh no! They’ve noticed my hands are still free! I can go on no longer. Before they get me, I hope this was an informative look into the beta reading process and I hope you all enjoy the book!
Bloodline out in print, ebook, and audiobook April 6th, merch up now on the Will Wight store! Preorder for ebook and audio live NOW, exclusively on Amazon and Audible! Also, don’t forget you can listen to all 8 currently released Cradle books on Audible Plus for the price of FREE WITH A MEMBERSHIP!
The next blog post will come from Will himself who’s currently rebuilding his own bodily infrastructure on the slopes of Mount Sinai. His return is imminent.
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