Hello lovelies and welcome back to the blog.
We’ve been talking about revisions and how to get through your draft process. A few weeks ago, I gave you an overview of how to work through a revision in a way that makes sense so that you are not working against yourself the whole time. I gave you a free revision checklist and if you have not picked that up yet go ahead and grab that now. We are going to go in depth this week into the last item on that checklist which is to make as many other passes as you desire.
Alpha Readers and Beta Readers
Alpha readers are the very first humans other than yourself that get to see your draft. They don’t have to have any knowledge of the writing craft. You might choose to show your draft to them at any stage of the process, but eventually, someone else other than yourself will have to see your novel. The few people that make it into your ultra-elite circle are your alpha readers. They will give you general feedback about how they like the book and how it makes them feel.
Your beta readers are generally going to be people that know something about your genre or your world. Beta readers also get to read your book before publication, but unlike an alpha reader, they will read a version of your book a lot closer to being published, and you can ask them for more specific feedback. They will be able to spot when a character they love isn’t being true or consistent with their nature, and when plot and character moments that an author thought were good, aren’t hitting them right.
Critique partners are people you will look to for workshopping your novel. While any writers who want to listen to excerpts of your chapters are worthy, writers who are writing and seeking publication for novels in the same genre as you are highly invaluable to you. They are going to know not only the genre conventions, but what your readers are wanting and expecting. Any other writer can help make your novels better, but the ones who are gold for you are ones who are doing the same things you are, so find them and hold tight.
If you are looking to traditionally publish, you will likely be seeking representation from an agent. This person is responsible for representing you and for pitching your novel to publishing houses. Some agents will also offer assistance in the form of their own critiques. An agent isn’t going to be effective at pitching a novel they aren’t totally behind, but they get nothing out of trying to pitch a novel that isn’t sellable either, so it makes sense that they will try to help you to make your novel the best it can be.
Read it Out Loud
Have you ever tried to read something, even a simple children’s book aloud? It’s difficult, right? Even something that’s already been published and which you know has been well edited and doesn’t have errors in it can be difficult to read out loud. Why? Because your brain can read things and process them faster than you can speak them. You have to actually slow down to speak. This is good, because you can’t skip over passages. Your brain can’t automatically fill in words that aren’t there like it does when you’re reading it silently. Reading aloud can catch a lot of things that you didn’t catch before. If that sounds intimidating, you don’t have to read it to anyone at all. Sit by yourself or with a pet.
Have it Read Aloud to You
If reading your book out loud sounded interesting, having the book read to you could also be an equally valid revision pass to make. Don’t worry though. You don’t have to have a real human do this, though if you’re comfortable with that it could be very interesting to see which words they are unfamiliar with and where they inflect things in sentences. You can actually find a lot of near-human sounding text to voice programs online, and many of them are even free. As with your own read aloud pass, someone else won’t skip passages or words, so you may catch even more than you’d expect.
It goes without saying, but a developmental, copy, line edit, or proofread pass may be in order as well. You may need more or you may need less. You may need several professional editing passes of the same style. If you are indie publishing, you get to decide how much your book needs. If you are traditional publishing, your book will likely go through them all.
At the end of this step you may want to go back to step two and do another readthrough. If you’ve made a lot of changes, it’ll be good to make sure that everything still makes sense, especially with your timelines.
If you love these tips, I have this entire post as an easy to use printable checklist! If you want it, it’s totally free!