Tuesday, July 7, 2015

PART 1: How to get targeted responses from beta readers

Women Writers Wednesday: Update from the Land of Hodge 
I have been busy as always. I have most of Book #2 content edits in and have integrated the changes that my editors have suggested. I have also been working on getting things together for my cover reveal on August 5, 2015. Since I am in the editing state of mind I have put together a little bit of what I have learned this year about editing.

Writer tip: How I got targeted responses from my beta readers

First Book: What I got wrong and what I got right  
When I went through the editing process with my first book, I learned through trial and error what worked for me and what didn't. I did a three part edit 1) Content 2)Copy and 3)Proof.

I elicited the help of 5 Beta Readers for this process, which according to the industry is the ideal number.   I asked each of them about their level of involvement, what format they wanted the book in and how they would prefer to send back the information to me. I also gave them all a gift.

Content Editing: The majority of my betas had never done an edit process like this and I soon found out that a few of them were unable to edit the content because they couldn't see the content through all the copy edit errors. I ended up with two amazing content editors out of the five. They're both excellent at asking all the right questions. This is important because you don't want your readers to be asking these questions.

Copy Editing: If you are unfamiliar with the difference between content editing and proof reading please read this great article on Daily Writing Tips. Likewise I have two readers who are excellent copy editors. They find inconsistencies and point out places where the grammar and syntax of a section of writing might need work. A fun tool to use to help with this step is ProWritingAid. I use it whenever I have a section that isn't flowing well. It is also great for finding and destroying those pesky sticky words and -ly adverbs that we all hate to let go of.

Proof Reading: This stage took the longest. In this state it is really helpful to actually print out the work and go over everything with the fine tooth comb. I have this one amazing editor who does this and will leave the edited and marked up chapters at my door step. I know I am completely spoiled.

Even with all of these editing stages I still have been finding errors in my book that has been out since March. I have gone back and made corrections and re posted it about three times since it went live almost four months ago. The majority of the errors were weird HTML glitches that messed up the formatting, but there were a few typos that were missed. Here is a little known secret, it happens to all of us. If you need a good laugh check out To Err is Human article

Book #2: What I have done differently 
This second time around I did things a little differently. First of all I did a half way edit where I searched and destroyed -ly adverbs and sticky words. I also just elicited the help of beta readers who I knew were talented at copy editing.  I then put together a packet for my readers to help guide them to give me the information that was most useful to me during this process. I did a lot of research to find just the right questions for my questionnaire.  This is what I sent my readers:

Opening/ Setting

  1. Did the story hold your interest from the beginning?

  1. Was the opening compelling? At what point did you first stop reading?

  1. Did the setting pull you in and did the description seem vivid and real to you?

  1. Did you get oriented fairly quickly as to whose story it is and where and when it takes place?


  1. Could you relate to the main character? Feel you knew them?

  1. What characters do you connect to and like? Are they believable?

  1. What characters need more development?

  1. Are there too many characters to keep track of? Were any of the names or characters too similar?


  1. Was there anything that confused or frustrated you?

  1. What scenes, paragraphs, or lines did you like?

  1. What parts resonated with you or moved you emotionally?

  1. What parts should be compressed/elaborated on?

  1. Were there any inconsistencies in time, sequences, places, character details?

  1. Did the dialogue sound natural to you? If not whose sounded artificial or inconsistent with the first book?

  1. Any repeated grammatical, spelling, punctuation, or capitalization errors?

  1. Any parts that bored you and made you want to  speed through, skip or put it down?


  1. Was it clear? Satisfying?

  1. Was there enough conflict, tension, and intrigue to keep you interested?

Already the information I have gotten back has been super helpful! I will let you know later how the rest of the editing process goes in part 2 and 3 over the next two months.

Happy Wednesday Writers and Readers!

Choose Joy!

KM Hodge is the author of The Syndicate Series. Book #1, Seasons is available on Amazon. 

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