So, I’ve talked before about the editing process I go through each time I finish a book. With my latest complete book, this has been added to slightly and I thought I’d share some of the interesting things I’ve learned.
Now, as mentioned before, my editing cycle usually goes: I edit, my wife edits and fills in the spaces I’ve left for her, I edit, then I send it off to my parents (my mom line-edits, my dad gives me content feedback), then I edit again. This time I decided to reach out to a larger group of beta-readers, adding a few more layers to my editing.
Why did I decide to do that this time? Three reasons – the first is that I have way more confidence in this book than any of my previous ones (I’m really happy with it! It’s very rare for any writer to actually be happy with what they’ve created), the second is that one of my dad’s coworkers asked to read my latest couple of books and he gave me some really important feedback on how some world building seemed absent from the book – something missed by everyone else because they’d read my previous books set in the same world. The third and final reason is that I was trying something risky with this book (it’s a secret!) and I needed a wider pool to test if it was working.
I haven’t collected back in all the feedback yet, but what I have heard has shown me some interesting things. Because I’m getting feedback from so many more people than usual, I decided that, rather than go through the book with each set of editing suggestions, I would compile them all in one place. This way, I can compare the suggestions from multiple people and – best of all – see where they overlap.
Of course, everyone is providing feedback on a level they are comfortable with – some just give feedback on content, some line edit, and some do both. As I’m adding in all the editing suggestions together, it’s fascinating to see the overlaps. Sometimes, multiple people suggest exactly the same edit (which is really cool to see, even it’s usually typos). Other times, I end up with multiple solutions to the same problem – which is really helpful because, not only do I have multiple suggestions to choose from, but it highlights when several people get caught up on the same thing that I might otherwise pass off as something of opinion or taste.
Just as fascinating is seeing what different people catch. This is most obvious with typos – it’s easier to forgive myself for the number of typos that slipped by my notice when I’m seeing some editors catching typos that other editors missed.
As for that risky thing I mentioned – that is the neatest thing of all to see. So far I’ve received the same feedback across the board on it (except from the one speed reader, who I believe missed the key introduction). Overall, everyone understood what I was doing and approved (though one, while approving the concept, did question the necessity of it and we had a great conversation on the topic), but they all had trouble with one minor, easily changed aspect of it. This was exactly the feedback I was looking for and now I can make the essential changes. I know, I know, I’m being cryptic and you have no idea what I’m talking about – you’ll just have to wait for the book to get published so you can read it.
So, the moral of the story is that having a large pool of beta-readers to help improve your book is a wonderful thing. I’m so glad I reached out to more people than usual.
Click here to find the charity anthology containing a couple of my short stories.