How to Write a Book: Part Two

Reading time ~5 minutes

The Book Writing Process: Part Two

Last post, we discussed the messy beginnings of starting a book. This week, we’re deep in the weeds, but luckily, we’re not alone! We have our trusty Critique Partners (CPs) to help us through. A good CP is your best friend in the writing process. Don’t know what a CP is? Check out Jenna Moreci’s video here

Week 2: Critique Partners and Beta Readers

  1. Send your book-baby off to your trusty CPs.
    • Finding a CP that’s a good fit can be… a process. Don’t get discouraged if you get a few (or, more than a few) people that don’t jive with your story. Keep trying. I promise it’s SO worth it when you find a good fit.
    • For any potential CPs, I send one or two chapters as a test-edit. If they are a helpful critique partner, they will point out what needs fixing, AND what they like (the latter helps to soften the blow of the former). Usually, the edits from the first couple chapters will give you some ideas on what to change in the rest of the book, so you’ll be editing the book as you go through the CP process.
    • It’s really helpful to recruit multiple CPs, so you know if an area really is too slow, or that person just hates scenes involving food.
    • To keep a good CP, be a good CP!
  2. This is a good time to get an agent if you are traditionally publishing (More on them in another post).
  3. Re-read, edit again. Send to your critique partners, if they’re willing to re-read and you have the time.
  4. Run your manuscript through a digital editor, like Grammarly. I paid for a premium account so that I could get my book in the best shape possible before paying someone to edit it. For me, it was worth the money (they often have sales, so sign up for the free account and Grammarly will email you when they have deals).
  5. Once you’re happy with it, and it’s as polished as you can reasonably make it, it’s a good time for a round of beta reading.

    • You want to find some people who read books in your genre (this is important!). Ideally, not family members or close friends. This makes honest feedback awkward for everyone. The pros say find at least 20. That can be hard for a newbie, but you want as many as you can find. Remember, beta aren’t writers, they are readers. You can find them on Goodreads, or through social media. Betas are unpaid, and pretty much just awesomely doing you a favour.
    • Usually, you give them 1-2 chapters and some questions about the section. You need to let your betas know when you expect the work back, and how detailed you expect the answers to be. Remember, they are doing it for free, so “have it back for me tomorrow” isn’t fair. Give them a week or two, depending on the length.
    • You DO NOT need to send the whole book out for beta reading. You can focus on sections you think might be an issue. You can send the whole thing, but often, there isn’t time.
  6. Use the feedback to make any changes you want to. That’s right, you get to decide. It’s still your book. You can expect that some betas might just hate it, and say it in the worst way. If you have a beta like that, you DO NOT argue with them. EVER. You say: “Thank you very much for your time.” And probably don’t use them for the next section. Constructive feedback is one thing, but if they just flat out hate it, then this isn’t the book for them. If you have one or two betas that don’t like a section, that’s okay. If all 20 are telling you that a section isn’t working, it’s worth considering a rewrite of that part. Again, still your call, but better to get the feedback from betas, then read it in your Amazon reviews.

    • Example of constructive feedback: This section drags on a little bit, I found myself skimming to get to “the good part”.
    • Example of non-constructive negative feedback: Your main character is a B*tch. The whole story is the worst, and totally lacking in dragons.
  7. In case you didn’t think you were busy enough, marketing also needs to become a bigger focus for you at this stage. Whether you’re self-publishing or traditionally publishing, a majority of the marketing is going to fall on you. I know, it SUCKS! But, it is what it is, so that means you need a marketing plan. I’ll be the first to admit that marketing isn’t my fave, but it’s SUPER important. I’ll post more about the actual marketing process in a separate post (as this one is long enough already), but I highly recommend you check out Jenna Moreci’s video and consider checking out her skillshare course on this subject. (pssst… you can get 2 free months with that link from Jenna! so cool!)

And that’s it for this week. If you’ve made it this far, you’re moving towards the home stretch! Next week, we’ll look at professional editing, cover design, and publishing!

Have any questions or comments about CPs/beta readers? Let me know in the comments below! :)

Part 1: Rough, Messy Beginnings
Part 3: Professional Edit and Publication

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