How to Publish a Novel: Part 5

It’s like watching a sunset. The beautiful colors of red, purple, orange, outlining the clouds and creating hypnotic layers is worth the commitment, patience, and wonder that escapes your heart.

I’m excited to share my coming soon novel with you. This has been such a journey. I have learned that going from writer to author take a lot of work. This is my story and it may not be the same process for everyone, but it helps me stay organized and hopefully you learn something too.

This is another post of my eight part blog mini-series.

Part 5: Thank you, Beta Readers

Ok, so by this point, I determined that I needed help editing. Who do you ask to do that? I know tons of readers and writers, and supporters to my book writing, but who do I trust? Also, who reads fast? And who can tell me the constructive criticism I need to hear? This has been an accelerated process having 3 beta readers (maybe fewer than most) in 6 months, but it has been more than rewarding. I’ve learned that in my next novel, I should 1) start sooner, and 2) find a critique partner.

Tip 1: Over-writer or under-writer

First of all, I learned that I am an under-writer. I make assumptions of my reader’s imagination and need to add detail to show the reader. To help put this in perspective, I thought I was “done” at 51,000 words in December. After adding huge world building and character development bits, I am now over 70,000 words. That’s 30% more. My beta readers would ask me questions of “did you mean–” or “what about–” and I could clarify in a conversation, but the main take away was, if it wasn’t clear in the book itself, add it.

Tip 2: Talk it out and uncover what is truly missing

Sometimes it was frustrating. Some questions my beta readers posed were, “So I don’t get the spaceship–” and “I like reading Mac, but he doesn’t do anything for the plot.” It was obvious to me, or maybe I liked leaving the color of something up to the reader’s imagination, but I’ve come to terms that that doesn’t make a good writer. There is a fine balance between too much detail (Lord of the Rings) where you skip chapters or pages of descriptions, and not enough (i.e. what I had). And by the way, sometimes you know the answer, and sometimes you have to dig deeper and go from editor to writer again. That is tough.

Tip 3: Never too soon

I was scared to give my unpolished book to someone, wanting a magical answer to the time and place for when it would be ready. Thank you to my beta readers that honestly read an incomplete novel and helped me relinquished the protective hold I had on my book as a dream. Through their involvement, it opened doors that would grow organically into reality. I learned SO much from my friends and family beta readers. They read it as readers, and it completely refueled me with their enthusiasm.

Thank you, from the bottom of Michelle’s heart, beta readers!

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