I don’t blog this much I promise, but all of these topics keep popping into my head and I finally have an answer to one of the timeless questions that all aspiring writers struggle with.
How much BETA testing is too much BETA testing?
This is what I think has to happen step by step for an aspiring author.
1) Write the mother f-ing First Draft.
You can’t edit, beta, or even publish something you haven’t bloody well written. So write, write, write!
2) Edit the incomprehensible heap of CRAP. (I mean First Draft)
You’re not going to hit a home run on the first try. Do everyone a favor and go through it yourself first. Catch the things that you can catch. I’ll guarantee you that your editing skills will suck, but the more stuff you catch by yourself, the better it’ll be.
3) READ IT YOURSELF.
That’s right, you better be prepared to take yourself on the reading ride of your life if you expect anyone else to do it. Read it and tell yourself the good stuff and the bad stuff.
4) Ask ONE person to read it. (If you need tips on how to choose a BETA reader, you shouldn’t be reading this blog post. No seriously, I don’t have time to tell you where to go, that’s what google is for)
This is BETA person number one. I hope they’re useful. They should be able to tell you what the story lacks, what the characters lack, what the setting lacks, and what the writing lacks.
5) REVISE / EDIT
That’s right, go through it again based on the helpful suggestions of said Beta reader. If your BETA told you that you suck and should never write again, you have total permission to embarrass them in fiction.
6) Ask a DIFFERENT person to read it.
This person should know something about writing, another aspiring writer, an author, a teacher, a book blogger, etc. Get them to tell you what sucks about the plot, the characters, the writing, and the setting.
7) REVISE / EDIT
Go back again and tear it all apart. Point fingers at all the evil bad parts of it. Revise it again.
8) Ask a DIFFERENT person to read it.
Yep, we’re on round three of BETA testing.
9) WASH, RINSE, REPEAT.
You want to BETA test the book over and over again, even read it again yourself somewhere in the process of this and you want to do it until you get this response from one of your BETA testers.
“I LOVE IT! I CAN’T THINK OF ANYTHING IT COULD DO BETTER! WHY ISN’T THIS PUBLISHED YET? YOU SHOULD SEND THIS OUT! YOU ROCK!”
Or any combination of those comments, plus details on what exactly worked for them and just how unputdownable the book was.
THEN YOU STOP.
Until an agent, an editor and a publishing team tears your work apart and tells you what’s STILL wrong with it.
And then you wash, rinse and repeat, with the added knowledge that um, it’s going to be out there for real.