Episode 53 – The Wonders of Beta Readers

What are beta readers?

Beta readers review finished manuscripts before they’re published and provide the author with feedback from a reader’s point of view. They can answer author questions, such as, which characters are interesting and since beta readers highlight issues writers become blind to during the countless revisions. They can identify where a reader would be more likely to stop reading or where the pacing doesn’t work.

How to find beta readers

Friends and family can be beta readers probably the easiest people to ask but they may not be the best. If they don’t normally read the same genre as the manuscript, they may be overly critical of the wrong elements or they may be reluctant to be honest. Readers groups or swopping manuscripts with other writers might be a better option.

Qualities You Need in a Beta Reader

  1. Your beta readers should enjoy reading and not see it as an academic exercise.
  2. Preferably, they should read the same or a similar genre.
  3. Your beta readers need to be reliable and able to work to a deadline.
  4. Your beta readers need to be willing to be honest and you may need to encourage this by being grateful for all feedback. This is not the same as acting on all feedback.

Episode 51 – Newsletters

Every author needs a mailing list, which means sending out regular newsletters but how do you decide what to include? Does your audience want personal facts or an insight into your daily living or should you keep things professional? This is something Marielle and I discuss in episode 51.

Episode 47 — Kanban for Writers

In this episode, Mariëlle explains how she has started to use a Kanban board to keep a track of her projects and enhance productivity.

What looked frightening to me and Mariëlle referred to as a monster, turned out not to be so scary when I understood the various sections. If you dream of the perfect planning system, this episode is for you.

Designed by a Japanese company to keep track of productivity, Kanban is used to organize individual writing projects with the option to develop it to serve as an overall production schedule.

For authors with multiple books, it aids tracking or for those with a single project; it breaks down the writing process into manageable chunks. If you tend to take on too much, use it to reduce the chance of becoming overwhelmed.

Marielle developed her ‘crazy’ version of the Kanban to incorporate long-term goals and planning for the year. We plan to review the process in spring 2021 to see what worked well.

If you want to know more:

Kanban for Writers: Organise book releases, revisions and more with the project management boards

Daily Kanban for Writers: Managing big picture projects, tasks and works in progress day to day

How to set up your Kanban board to reach your writing goals in the next 90 days

Have you used a Kanban? If yes, did it meet your expectations? If not, do you want to give it a try?

Episode 46 — Planning for 2021

I’m blaming Lily (pictured) joining our family as the reason for failing NaNoWriMo this year. Although, it’s not over yet so who knows.

In this episode, Mariëlle and I talk about the process of business planning for 2021.

Yearly plans serve different purposes. They are a tool to moderate expectations or to increase productivity.
Any plan must be flexible for those unexpected curveballs life throws at us. Ultimately, a new plan allows for a period of reflection.

In the next episode, I will ask expert planner, Mariëlle, questions about her Kanban Board to discover if there are elements that might be useful to a tentative planner. So, if you have any questions, leave them in the comments below and I will ask her.

#44 – How to Plan a Novel

Most successful novels abide by the rules of story structure if they are going to hold the reader’s attention. They generally have 3 Acts:

  • Beginning – inciting incident and the point of no return.
  • Middle build – the protagonist faces a series of challenges and obstacles.
  • Ending – the protagonist succeeds or fails or a combination of both.

Some authors use structure to plan out a novel from the start, while others use it to edit a story after they have the first draft. Some knowledge of story structure is innate, but a deeper understanding of what makes stories work will improve any novel.

The writer needs to tap into their creativity both in writing into the dark and during the planning process.

Suppose you get stuck while writing. Try a different method. What have you got to lose? At the very least you might find out something about yourself.

For more information and to try out lots of different structures, check out  story planner.