Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Guest Post ~ Beta Readers. Get Some. Why You Need Them and Where to Find Them.



Today I have a special treat for everyone! Author T.K. Harris is here telling us a bit about beta readers (and how the find them). Don't forget to check out the details of her new suspense/thriller, Phantom Dreams.  For now, the floor is yours, T.K.

Beta Readers.  Get Some.
Why You Need Them and Where to Find Them


But that doesn’t work as well for a novel.  First off, they are right when they say don’t let anyone read a novel you are currently writing.  You're either going to get great feedback that will probably go to your head and make you lazy or you're going to get so much constructive criticism that you may become discouraged and give up.   The only time you want to receive feedback while writing that first draft is when you’re stuck and just need something to pry you out of whatever corner you wrote yourself into.

Once you’re done with that first draft, you put it away for a month or two, then pull it back out and edit. And edit. And edit.  Its mind numbing.  It may drive you a little crazy.  But it has to be done.  And it’s probably the hardest part of the entire venture, next to marketing your baby.  (But that’s another story.)  But now, you need readers.   Readers to help you find the holes in your plot, or to tell you the places where your brilliant novel becomes boring or confusing.  But also readers to tell you what you did right!

For those of you who already have dedicated readers willing to wade through what is, inevitably, a manuscript still in need of major repairs, good for you.  I’ll try not to be jealous!  For the rest of us, we know that no matter how much our friends and family say they may help, getting them to finish, is like pulling teeth.  (Although I’ve never pulled teeth, I hear it’s quite difficult.)

So where do you find them?  I tried book clubs, college students, etc.  No luck. But then I decided to try something a little different.  I posted an ad on Craigslist.  I know you’re thinking “brilliant” right?  Or, more likely, “Are you crazy?  What if they steal your book?!”  Well, it’s a risk.  And it didn’t happen. 

I basically asked for 5-10 people to read my novel, answer a few questions, and I’d send them a ten dollar Money Order.  The response was overwhelming.  In fact, I had to turn people away.  For those that responded, I outlined the questions, explained that once I got the answers back, I’d send the money.  And, most importantly, I gave them a two week deadline.  Once they agreed to all of this, I sent them the book.

What I got back blew me away.  The comments devastated and inspired me. 

They didn’t like my main character.  She was boring. (A result of writing late at night no doubt).  They got confused in the beginning and at the very end. They couldn’t put the book down in the middle.  In fact, one lady said her interest was so caught in the middle that she sat in her car outside of her gym, until she finished it.  (How cool is that?!)

I used the comments to plug the holes. I rewrote and started the book with Jack, instead of Kathy. And, when I became discouraged, I read and re-read the comments that told me how much they liked the book and would be willing to read it again once it was ready. 

It was an amazing experience that helped me make an OK story so much better.  I will definitely be doing the same for my next book!  And I hope this was helpful!

I’d be happy to send anyone the actual Craigslist post and the questions I sent the readers.  Simply contact me at: https://www.tkharrisonline.com and go to the contact page OR "LIKE" my Phantom Dreams page on Facebook and leave a comment requesting the information. 

You can also just stop by to say "hi" or ask another question! 

T.K. Harris


Now, check out Phantom Dreams!


 
A scorned serial killer on an old vendetta.

An FBI agent who has been chasing monsters for too long. 

A woman whose nightmares start invading her waking life.

FBI Special Agent Jack Matthews finds himself on yet another serial killer case, having barely recovered from the last disastrous hunt. Still stiff from a gun shot wound in his leg, under investigation for a botched job, and having lost his fiancĂ©e when she walked out on him, Jack is beginning to wonder if it isn’t time to move on to something new. But, for Jack, these cases are personal and he can’t say no. 

Marketing specialist Kathy Gilliam leads a fairly boring life. If she’s not working or caring for her ailing father, then she is doing whatever it takes to avoid going anywhere near crowds of people. Her few distractions include her friend Margo Longfellow, occasional hiking trips, and her increasingly alarming dreams of women dying.

As her nightmares cause her to begin to doubt her sanity, the media releases news of the “Coast-to-Coast Killer” and Kathy discovers her dreams may be related. In a moment of panic, Kathy does something that places her on the FBI’s “persons of interest” list. Suddenly, her life is set on a collision course with Jack who must decide if Kathy is the killer or destined to become a victim.


Buy Phantom Dreams:
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Phantom-Dreams-ebook/dp/B008I4R1FM
Barnes&Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/phantom-dreams-t-k-harris/1112976686
Kobo: http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Phantom-Dreams/book-by49U9ATsku2CiTPWfxl6g/page1.html?s=N81-rNZGlE6rhpbt92nJbA&r=1







T.K. Harris was born in California and lived a gypsy sort of life traveling the world as a military brat. She has been writing since she was a child and as had several short stories published by various magazines, including one in Woman's World. She currently lives and works in Colorado as a Senior Solutions Architect and IT Instructor and has recently had her first novel, Phantom Dreams, published. She is looking forward to her next two books, already outlined and partially written. You can find out more at: http://www.tkharrisonline.com.






Thanks so much for being here today, T.K. Once again, everyone, if you want to buy Phantom Dreams or connect with T.K. Harris, here are all her links!

Website:  http://www.tkharrisonline.com/index.php?p=1_11_Book-and-Reviews

Buy Phantom Dreams:
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Phantom-Dreams-ebook/dp/B008I4R1FM
Barnes&Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/phantom-dreams-t-k-harris/1112976686
Kobo: http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Phantom-Dreams/book-by49U9ATsku2CiTPWfxl6g/page1.html?s=N81-rNZGlE6rhpbt92nJbA&r=1


Happy reading, everyone! Have a great day!
eeeChantelfff
P.S. Don't forget my new policy and read the samples before you buy! Everyone's tastes are different. 

9 comments:

  1. Great post. Encouraging. I aspire to be at the point where I need beta readers. Maybe next year??? In any case, I'd never have thought of Craig's List. What an idea.

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    1. Thanks for the comment, Carol. Happy writing!

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  2. Thank you for having me today! I'm looking forward to any questions from your readers!

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    1. Thank you for being here today and for the great tips! I think finding betas is something a lot of us struggle with.

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  3. A novel idea for beta readers! :) Nice post.

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  4. I hope I can find my beta readers before coming to this. But it might work. I hope I find some, some other way, if not, I'd do it.

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  5. What a hoot! Craigslist - who would've thought? Fantastic idea - thanks, T.K., for sharing, and Chantel for hosting this post. I'm still chuckling and impressed.

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  6. Thanks, ladies, for reading and posting! It definitely can be a challenge to find beta readers sometimes. I never considered paying them before. Luckily, I had enough for Always & Forever but we'll see how things work out with Crime & Passion.

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  7. What an interesting way to get beta readers!

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