Beta reading for better reading.
In my last editing post, I spoke about sending my manuscript off to a beta reader for some advice and feedback, I promised to write a post about this experience and I also wanted to share with you my emotions throughout the process as I found it really difficult to let someone that I didn't know very well read through and make suggestions to my manuscript... so here it is.
I sent my story to a girl called Hannah, her IG handle is @hannahsallartsy she is absolutely lovely and she was recommended to me by another author. Hannah was offering a $5 beta reading deal, which I thought was perfect for my first experience. At first I was sceptical as I thought that a deal that cheap might not be very detailed or useful, but I eventually decided to go for it as I knew that just letting someone else read my manuscript would massively help me in the long run. I spoke to Hannah beforehand about also sending some questions to her about the story. She said that she would make detailed notes on the manuscript and she was happy to answer any questions that I had.
I also agreed a reasonable timeline with Hannah of 11 days. I sent the manuscript to Hannah on the 1st September and I explained that I had deadlines to meet and so we agreed that she would get it back to me by September 11th. It is now 5th September and she has already sent it back to me with detailed changes and suggestions. When I sent the manuscript across to Hannah I was really nervous and I almost felt sick at the thought of someone reading my work. The feeling didn't really go away and I fought back the urge to send her an email asking what she thought of it so far LOL! I tried very hard to just be professional and wait patiently to hear from her. Luckily, I didn't have to wait very long, when I received the feedback I was so excited to read it! I looked through the notes instantly as best I could on my phone and then when I got chance to sit and look properly on the laptop I was able to understand her suggestions better.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that Hannah not only made suggestions but she had also answered all of my questions and she has made some lovely, personal comments about the book overall which have made me fall in love with my writing again. (Not that I fell out of love with it, I just needed a new perspective). My favourite one of Hannah's personal comments was right at the end of the feedback where Hannah wrote "YES YES YES we need an ending like this….why am I crying right now?! young girls need this." As an author this is the best feedback that you can receive, I almost cried at the thought of my story making someone feel exactly how I wanted them to feel.
What did the beta read include?
- Grammatical changes
- Answers to specific questions
- Continuity changes
- Overall suggestions that she thinks would develop the story - with detailed reasons about why she thinks I should make these changes.
- Personal comments where she highlighted parts of the manuscript that she loved and explained why she loved these parts (this was really encouraging - particularly when she noted things that I hadn't realised I had done)
I was overwhelmed by the feedback and the thought that she had put in to the detail of the feedback, it was more than I could have imagined. This service was worth much more than just $5 and I really appreciate the effort that Hannah put in to reading through my manuscript.
I would definitely use Hannah as a beta reader again, I would also send my manuscript to several readers to get even more suggestions and feedback now that I've done it once. Receiving this feedback has given me the push to get the manuscript finished so that I can get it out there for all of you to read.