Beta readers: a change of plan

Earlier this evening, I had the great pleasure of sending Part 3 (the final part) of  The Big Smoke to my beta readers. This is only a week behind the original deadline I set myself back in August, so I’m pretty happy with that.

However, in my original project schedule, I allocated time in between editing parts to go back and consider feedback from my beta readers on the previous part and make changes. That didn’t happen, mainly because it felt more natural to continue on with editing in a linear fashion rather than backtracking, and also because editing took longer than I’d expected. Especially Part Three. Part Three was a slog.

Don’t get me wrong – I did read the feedback from my beta readers, I just haven’t processed it fully yet. Now that Part Three is in the hands of my beta readers, that’s exactly what I plan to do.

I already know I’ll have some difficult decisions to make because my readers had quite different opinions about what works and what doesn’t, but I’m happy to say that overall my readers have really enjoyed what they’ve read so far (phew!). They’ve also had some fantastic insights about how I could make the story even better so I’m looking forward to mulling those suggestions over and deciding what to take on board.

In my original project schedule, I planned to distribute the whole manuscript to my second group of beta readers at this point too, meaning I would receive feedback from my first group on Part 3 and my second group on the whole manuscript at roughly the same time. Obviously, that’s not possible any more because I haven’t made changes to parts 1 and 2 yet.

But even if I had, I think that I would’ve decided to wait until I received feedback from my first group on Part 3 before sending the entire manuscript to my second group. Why? Because if there are major doozies /deal breakers in Part 3, I’d want my first group to let me know so I can fix them up before my second group starts reading. That way, my second group will (hopefully) get a much more polished version of the entire manuscript, rather than two-thirds polished and one-third good but ‘flawed’.

This means my beta reading stage will take longer than I’d first hoped, but I think it will be more valuable this way. Fingers crossed that’s the case!

Your turn

What do you think? Do you agree with my thoughts about drawing the beta reading process out or do you think I’m just trying to make myself feel better for not sticking to my original plan? (Feel free to be honest!) Have you done something similar with beta readers? If so, what were your experiences?

P.S. If you’re part of my second group of beta readers, expect an apologetic email about the delay coming your way soon! 🙂

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10 Comments

Filed under Beta readers, Progress update, Tangled

10 responses to “Beta readers: a change of plan

  1. I think you’re very wise to wait until you’ve heard all the feedback form the original groups and processed it before sending out the full ms to the second group. The whole point of the exercise is for you to get as much out of it as you can, so whatever works best for you is what you should do 🙂 I will look forward to reading The Big Smoke whenever it arrives 🙂

  2. It makes sense to wait until the first group have finished before you move onto the second – and plans are made to be changed 🙂

  3. As a beta reader of group 2, I support your decision to edit all parts (which makes sense to me), and I greatly look forward to when I get to read the whole thing!

  4. No, it makes total sense! If you can send a better version to your beta’s you should! It makes sense to do it that way. Having them read the same piece won’t be as beneficial to you (as most of the problems have probably been pointed out already).

    Good luck with Beta reading/editing!

    • Thanks! It definitely makes more sense to me to do it this way, and you’re right – I’ll get a lot more benefit out of it if my second group of betas are commenting on a completely revised version rather than a partly revised one!

      Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on Part 3! 🙂

  5. If the readers don’t mind, I’d probably delay it. That way, you can see if the changes work or not. Also, sometimes it can be hard to know if you’ve completely fixed a problem or not. A fresh set of eyes can be very helpful in that case. Good luck!

    • A fresh set of eyes is always helpful. I think that will be a big benefit with having the second group, i.e. ensuring my changes actually fix the issues and don’t create other ones! 🙂

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