Several weeks ago, I wrote something of an update on where I was with my writing. If you missed this little treat, you can catch up here. Since then, there have been further developments, and it seemed appropriate to bring you up to speed.
As I mentioned at the time, I was looking for some beta readers for Borderline and, since then, I’ve been fortunate enough to find several – across a mix of ages, and equally balanced between the sexes. My expectations in terms of turnaround times were low, especially as we were heading into the Christmas period. And yet four of those readers came back to me before the ‘festivities’ began.
When I had beta readers for Carrion, the feedback they gave me was invaluable, and two of them have agreed to do it again for Borderline. Of the four who’ve already responded, each has approached the project differently, almost certainly reflecting their own experiences as well as their reading styles and preferences. Which is good. Aside from the mix of genders and ages, there could be differences in the ways my potential market read.
One thing I learned from my last experience with beta readers is that, sometimes, life can get in the way, or there’s just something about the story that doesn’t gel for them. The outcome in those situations can be that you don’t get any feedback at all. And that’s okay. Life does get in the way at times, so it’d be inappropriate for any author to be cheesed off if a beta reader doesn’t come back to them. Frankly, I was just grateful they even considered trying to support me. As for the ‘not gelling’ situation, that’s feedback in itself. Maybe that masterpiece you thought would appeal to all is going to have a narrower market.
What I took from that experience with Carrion was that I should ask a larger number of people to beta read so I got a better sample of opinions. Then again, that leaves me with potentially four more responses to get. Which sounds like a good thing – and really, really is – but the existing four have given me a lot to think about already.
One response was almost a full edit, which was a huge commitment of time and effort on their part. Once again, I found myself marvelling at how generous other writers are in their support.
The reassuring thing is that, in the main, they liked the story and the characters. One beta reader gave me a lovely comment about Borderline: ‘In the book club I’m in we’ve had two crime novels in the past six months by well-known authors. I’d say it’s more original and interesting and probably better written than either of them.’
I’m not going to claim he’s right. It is, after all, only one person’s opinion but, along with other feedback so far, at least I don’t feel as if I’ve wasted my time.
Christmas has got in the way for me, so I haven’t had chance to work properly with the notes I’ve been given. At the same time, I’ve been torn by the fact that I haven’t had all the responses yet, so don’t want to plunge in and make any changes only to find others give me a different perspective.
Even so, there were some recurring issues. They’re often the ones you’ve known deep down are there and just hoped no one will notice. So the reality is that I might as well do something about those if nothing else.
The New Year is well under way now, so this weekend is when I do roll my sleeves up (not easy in a T-shirt…) and start making some progress again. I’ve made too many excuses for myself in the past. No alibis this time…
It was a clumsy segue, but any excuse to play some Lizzy. Rock music does appear in Borderline too, so it’s not completely irrelevant.
Whatever your plans, goals and aspirations for 2023, I wish you the best of luck with them. Life is a lot harder for most people than it has been for a while, so the chances are they’ll take a little more sleeve-rolling than in past years. Still, at least having plans, goals and aspirations has the potential to take your mind off some of the crap…