After losing my memory in 2018, I had to re-teach myself a lot of the skills I had lost, some very basic. Trying to heal, I started to write. Then, ambition took over again. I decided to write my first novel, marrying who I had once been, a cybersecurity and telecommunication expert, with who I could still be, somebody able to type on a keyboard. That ambition cost me several setbacks in the years after that. Finally, in 2023, I carried the novel to the finish line with the help of writing professionals and the determination of a few doctors.
The result is Feral Game. “A spellbinding story of revenge mixed with cyber forensics, and it will keep you turning pages from start to finish,” according to PublishersDailyReviews.
I’m in the last week of addressing the feedback I received from my beloved beta readers. This phase lasted five weeks, addressing about 8 to 10 comments a day. Of course, not all feedback is created equal, but that’s what it worked to on average.
What are the most challenging comments to address?
With each comment, you have to interpret it and then implement it.
The most challenging ones are the ones where you have to find what the readers mean behind what they say. One comment I received was at the end of a scene where the beta readers did find the last paragraph believable. I could have followed the feedback literally and fixed the section. However, after thinking about it for hours, I traced the feedback to the scene’s premise and had to fix that instead.
Translating what the reader says into what the reader means can be challenging.
During the implementation, typos are the easiest, of course. The comments that require reworking the story are the ones that take more time. Not only do you have to redo some of the scenes you wrote, but you have to think through the impacts of the changes to the entire book.
Who are the beta readers?
Three types of beta readers exist:
The ones you hire
The ones you barter with (fellow writers in need of a beta reader themselves)
The ones you leverage your relationships with (friends and family)
Each type has pros and cons, but in any case, you want the following qualities out of your beta readers:
Honesty. This is where friends and family can be unreliable, not wanting to hurt you by providing negative feedback, sometimes needed.
Specificity. Nothing is more frustrating than a comment that says, “I don’t know. I just didn’t like this.”
Thoroughness. You want feedback given at the same rate at the beginning of your manuscript as at the end of it. Avoid readers that will tire after the first few chapters.
Timeliness. This is key, especially when you are on a deadline. The best practice is to be upfront with the readers on what schedule you are working against.
Once I complete addressing the comments, I will start the line editing phase. I give myself two to three months for that phase.