Tag Archives: authors

Overcoming the Pitch Wars Rejection

So, Pitch Wars has come and gone. If you don’t know what Pitch Wars is, you can read all about it here!

But, I did not make it as one of the 2019 mentee’s. In fact, I didn’t even get one request!

I was hopeful in the first few weeks that I would get a request. I was confident that I would. Forbidden had gone through multiple revisions, I felt like my opening pages were strong. I worked with my CP to clean and polish my query letter and synopsis, and then…there was nothing.

By the second week of Pitch Wars, I had resigned myself to believing that I was never getting a request.

Despite the hope that maybe – just maybe – I would get a request at the last minute, it never came. Just yesterday, the Pitch Wars mentee’s were announced, and I’m so happy for everyone who got chosen!

But I’m also sad, too. I’m sad that I didn’t even get one request – which is all I really wanted when entering Pitch Wars. I’m sad that I didn’t get any feedback on what wasn’t working for the mentors – was my query letter bad, were my opening pages not good enough, was it just something they didn’t connect with on a personal level?

While I had a feeling I wasn’t getting picked, it still hurts. And now I’m going through the typical grieving process everyone does when they’re faced with rejection. But I’m determined not to let it get me down, and you know why? It’s because Pitch Wars is not the only way to success.

Pitch Wars is not the golden ticket to success. It is not the only way to find an agent, or to get your work critiqued. While waiting to hear back, I heard so many stories from other people about their journey in past Pitch Wars events. Everything from people who didn’t get a request who now have agents or book deals. To people who got their agent but unfortunately had to part with them. Or even people who got multiple requests and still are unagented.

Pitch Wars is not the end-all-be-all in writing.

Everyone’s journey is different. Everyone’s work is different. My work will not connect with every person out there, and that’s okay.

So I’m going to let myself be upset about being rejected. I’m going to allow myself to take a bubble bath, put on a face mask, and try to recharge from all the soul-crushing anxiety that Pitch Wars brought about. I’m going to watch my favorite movies and read my favorite books. I’m going to binge-eat all the chocolate in the pantry.

And when I’m done doing that, I’m going to get back on my feet and begin querying Forbidden to literary agents. Because I’m proud of all the work I’ve put into this book. I’m proud of how much I’ve grown in the last year and a half since starting it.

Being rejected in Pitch Wars does not mean I will never be successful. It does not mean I’m a bad writer. It does not mean I don’t know how to tell a story. It means that this isn’t the path I’m meant to take.

And I’m okay with that.

September & October Recap 2019

So…it’s been a while. Hi! Sorry I haven’t posted a blog in a long time. Which is something that I’m very sad to say I missed out on. For some personal reasons and the business of life, I had to set blogging aside. That said, I’m back again! Though I don’t know how frequently I’ll be posting, I’ll try to keep up with these monthly recaps again.

So far in my life, last time I updated, I got engaged! My fiancé and I went looking at venues in the beginning of October and finally settled on one! We’re very excited to be planning our wedding! This past week I’ve been really sick, so I’m trying to recover. Luckily I’m starting to feel better!

What I Wrote:

Back in September, I was 18k words into my YA Foreign Princess WIP. I am very happy to say that I officially completed writing that book! I also went through several rounds of revisions for my adult fantasy romance, and submitted it to Pitch Wars! I made a lot of progress and am very proud of myself.

What I Read:

Total: 14

Between September and October, I read fourteen books!

Before I Disappear by Danielle Stinson ★☆☆☆☆

I really, really did not like this book. I felt like the plot was very jumpy and all over the place; the story didn’t make any sense, and it was really repetitive. This one was not for me.

Serpent and Dove by Shelby Mahurin ★★★☆☆

I wanted to love this book, I really did. This book had so much hype built around it and I was very excited to dive in. While I was enjoying most of the book – it was the end that really lost. I found the entire last act of this book to be very contrived, full of conveniences, and the ending had no emotional impact for me. I didn’t hate this book, but I definitely didn’t think it was worth the hype.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid ★★★★★

My CP gifted this book to me for my birthday and I LOVED it. It was a very well-written, well-plotted, and well-placed read with a great cast of characters. I highly recommend this one!

Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman ★☆☆☆☆

I saw this at Target several times before I finally decided to pick it up. Unfortunately, I just didn’t connect with this story the way I wanted to. There was nothing creepy or thrilling about this, and I felt like I was reading the same kind of thriller I’ve read dozens of times before.

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Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly ★☆☆☆☆

Another book I’m really disappointed by. I wanted to love this one, especially since it was in my anticipated reads, but I found this book to be so…I don’t know. The characters weren’t interesting, the plot was silly, and I discovered that I really don’t like my fantasy to blend in with realism. I just didn’t connect with this one, and had to force myself to finish.

The Babysitter by Sherly Brown ★☆☆☆☆

I bought this as a two-in-one book at Target. Unfortunately, this was another thriller that I just didn’t find to be “thrilling.” While the writing was fine and the story fast-paced, the biggest problem with this book was that the main twist is given away in the prologue. Our antagonist also gets their own POV, so there was never any mystery behind their actions or motivations, and it just didn’t sit well with me.

The Affair by Sheryl Brown ★★☆☆☆

Because this was part of the two-in-one book, I went ahead and read this one, too. While I liked it a little better than The Babysitter, this one still just wasn’t something I couldn’t connect with.

Party Games by R.L. Stine ★★★★☆

If you didn’t know, I love R.L. Stine’s Fear Street series. This is the first book in his new relaunch of the series, and I picked it up a couple years ago when it first came out, but never got around to reading. While yes the plot is a little predictable, and the writing geared at a younger audience, as a lifelong Fear Street fan I just couldn’t help but enjoy this book.

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Every Last Lie by Mary Kubica ★★★★☆

This is one of those rare books that I enjoyed almost every minute of. I liked the characters, the writing, the plot – almost everything. While I wished the ending would’ve been a little more impactful, I did enjoy this book a lot.

One Night at the Lake by Bethany Chase ★★★☆☆

When I picked this up, I actually thought it was a thriller! Turns out it was Women’s Fiction, which I don’t normally read. Whoops! That said, I was enjoying this book – until the final twist. I just have so many conflicting feelings about how this book ended and I’m not sure how to feel about it.

The Good Sister by Gillian McAllister ★★★★★

Like Every Last Lie, this is a rare thriller that I enjoyed from start to finish. The court-room drama, the twists, and the constant guessing kept me on my toes!

The Missing Season by Gillian French ★★☆☆☆

Oh man, I’m disappointed. I specifically picked this one up, thinking it would be perfect book for spooky season. A new girl moves to town only to learn about the urban legend of “The Mumbler”, a man who kidnaps and kills bad kids on Halloween? This should’ve had everything I wanted and instead…it didn’t. The urban legend plot is shoved the side instead, and most of the book revolves around Clara adjusting to her new life and finding friends. It was such a bore.

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A Game For All The Family by Sophie Hanna ★☆☆☆☆

Again – this book should’ve had everything I wanted in a thriller: a compelling mystery, intrigue, perhaps a ghost? No. Instead, I got a boring plotline with an annoying main character. I struggled to push myself through this one, and was skimming by the end.

Girls with Sharp Sticks by Suzanne Young ★★★★☆

This has been one of my favorites of the year – and this book had everything I could’ve wanted! An interesting main characters, a boarding school, mysterious things happening, strange behavior…I really enjoyed this one! I struggle to give this one 5 stars since I wasn’t blown away, but I highly recommend reading!

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What I’m Watching:

My fiancé and I started our rewatch of Lost and we’re already halfway through Season 4. Gonna be honest and say that Lost is one of my all-time favorite shows! What’s yours?

I also watched You and I started watching Designated Survivor. I’ve never really been into political thrillers before, but this one intrigued me.

Currently Reading:

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How I Did: September & October Goals

At the beginning of September, I gave myself several goals:

• Finish writing Foreign Princess WIP
• Organize list of literary agents
• Get submission materials ready for Pitch Wars
• Submit to Pitch Wars
• Plot out adult fantasy WIP sequel

I’m happy to say I completed 4 out of 5 of these goals! The only one I didn’t get around to was plotting out my sequel, but I’m pretty sure that’ll still take a while. Since I finished my Foreign Princess WIP in early October, I decided to spend the rest of the month taking a writing break!

November Goals:

• Plot out new adult fantasy romance WIP
• Plot out YA Alice in Wonderland Retelling Idea
• Do one more small revision for Forbidden
•Begin querying Forbidden
• Reread my YA Thriller and decide if I want to pursue working on it or not
• Plot out Forbidden sequel


How is everyone’s fall? What was everyone up to while I was gone? Let me know!

XOXO – Devon

Writer’s Digest: Copyediting Certification Course Review

Over the last several years, I’ve come to realize that I really enjoy helping other writers with their developmental and copy edits, so much so that I’ve considered making a career out of it. But I wondered how to go about it. Did I need a degree to be a professional editor? Or take a class or workshop? How did I learn the required skills? Just as I was considering how to pursue this career path, I got an email from Writers Digest: a Copyediting Certification Course.

Now, I’m not really a religious person or don’t believe in manifestation or anything like that, but I couldn’t help but wonder if this was a sign from the universe that I had to take this course. A workshop for something I was striving to do was literally staring me in the face. How could I say no? So, I bit the bullet and decided to enroll in the course, and thought I’d give a review.

Price: $800 USD
Instructor: Kim Catanzarite
Length: 10 Weeks

Initial Thoughts:

After signing up for the program, which required me to immediately pay the $800 fee, I waited until the start date, which was May 16th. I logged into the course first thing that morning and noticed a few things right away:

The first is that it’s an entirely self-study course that you have to read. There are no instructional or follow-along videos in the course. If you’re someone who is an audio learner, this course has no audio in it.

The course runs for ten weeks. Every week we were required to complete a writing and grammar assignment, which had to be turned in every Sunday. There were no letter grades (A,B,C, etc…) for this course, and only “Complete” or “Incomplete” grades. I do not know what the repercussions would be if you never completed the assignments at all.

Due to be it being a self-study course, I did notice that quite a few students read ahead and moved onto the next sections faster than other students. Again, there were no repercussions for doing this. The lessons were not locked behind any kind of start date or time. You could move onto the next lesson after completing the one you were already on.

There was also a discussion board at the bottom of every lesson page, so the instructor and students could communicate with each other if they had any questions or concerns. The website itself was easy to navigate, and I never had any issues figuring my way around.

The Lessons:

The lessons were broken down into different parts, gradually increasing in difficulty as the course went along. The first several lessons consisted of a refresher of basic grammar: covering phrases and clauses, and the eight parts of speech. Eventually, the lessons moved onto things like: different kinds of paragraphs, tools of the trade, and how to get real life experience as a copyeditor.

The lessons themselves were easy to navigate and organized into well-structured parts. I never found myself getting lost on the website, or confused about where to find the answers if I needed to look back on previous lessons. Likewise, the instructor did a very good job of explaining every piece of information and giving adequate examples of what was being learned that day. I never had to google for a better explanation.

At the end of the course, which I completed on August 8th, there is a final test which you must take. The test consisted of 50 multiple choice questions, and you had to score an 84% or higher to pass. You were allowed to take the test five times. I do not know what would happen if you failed the test all five times.

Final Thoughts:

While I did enjoy the course and found it helpful, I did not find that there were nearly enough exercises to really help drill the knowledge into my brain. I am someone who learns by repetition, and I didn’t think there was enough of it in this course. As soon as I was finished with that week’s lesson and logged off, I would not look at the course until the next week.

I really think this course could’ve benefitted from a printable workbook that the students could’ve used at home. At least, for me, something like that would’ve really helped me continue to hone my skills and practice being a copyeditor. I did not think the writing and grammar exercises were enough to help me learn. I am finding myself in a position now that, if I want to really practice, I will have to reach out to fellow friends and writers to let me see their work and edit it for them. But without an instructor to grade my work, I find there is no way to discover if I’ve made mistakes. I think the course could’ve also benefited from this – some kind of final “paper” where the students had to copyedit ten pages of a book and turn it in.

However, one of the benefits is that the course is always available to me now. Whenever I log onto writersonlineworkshop.com, I can always go through the course and look back at the information. The instructor also included a PDF of the course, which is available to download.

In my honest opinion, I would’ve sliced the price in half and charged $400 instead. Or maybe even $600. But I don’t think it was worth a full $800.

I would give the course three stars. ★★★☆☆

All this said, I do not feel deterred from continuing to try other Writers Digests workshops, and I would definitely give them a shot.


Have you tried any writing workshops? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

XOXO – Devon

Writing Advice I Wish I’d Learned Sooner

I’ve been writing almost consistently for fifteen years now. Once I realized I could put my ideas down on paper, I’ve never been able to stop. The last fifteen years of my writing journey have been a whirlwind of learning my process, learning the writing craft, getting involved in the writing community, and so much more. But in all that time, there are three things I wish I’d known before I ever started on my writing and publishing journey. If I could go back in time and tell my younger self these three pieces of writing advice, I absolutely would.

So, what three pieces of advice do I wish I’d learned?

1.) Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket
2.) Read – and Read a Lot
3.) Writing is Rewriting

I’m sure you’ve heard these pieces of writing advice before. But when I first started writing, we didn’t have the internet to look up common writing advice, or search Youtube for “newbie author mistakes”, and so on. Through trial and error, I made huge writing mistakes, but had I known these three tips beforehand, I’m sure I could’ve avoided them – and I want to help you avoid them, too!

1.) Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket

This tip isn’t just limited to writing. You’ve probably heard it in regards to many different areas of life. But for me, it really means one thing: Don’t put all your hopes and dreams into one story idea.

I wrote my first novel when I was twelve, and fell head over heels in love with the idea. So much so that it took over my entire writing life. I rewrote that first novel – from scratch – about eleven times. I queried it endlessly. I even wrote the sequels. And as you can imagine, my journey through the query trenches resulted in…nothing. No response, no literary agent.

I finally had to trunk it.

But this led me down a path of wondering what to write next. Sure, I had other ideas in my head, but for the last almost ten years of my life, I had only pursued that one novel. I’d never branched out, never written another idea. I didn’t even know if I was capable of writing another novel.

But I was.

It was a very long and hard journey in teaching myself how to write another book. While I don’t regret rewriting that novel over and over again – it definitely helped me develop my own process and a writing habit – the anxiety, depression, and overwhelming sense of failure of not knowing if I was capable of writing another book is something I wouldn’t want to wish on any writer out there.

Remember: just because you have to put your project aside and work on something else, it doesn’t mean you’re giving up. Put all of your heart and soul into the book you’re writing, but don’t limit yourself to that one idea. You do have other ideas inside of you, and you are capable of writing them.

2.) Read – and Read a Lot

If you haven’t read my “How Reading Made Me a Better Writer” blog post, I’ll link it here, as it goes more in-depth on what I want to touch on for this tip.

I’d been an avid reader most of my life. It wasn’t until I hit my late teens and early twenties that I suddenly lost my love of reading. I wanted to read, but nothing on the shelf caught my interest. I wasn’t interested in fantasy either, which had become widely popular. I was only reading – maybe – a couple of books a year.

It wasn’t until one day that I realized I wasn’t “leveling up” as a writer. My writing reached a level where it wasn’t improving. I didn’t know the popular tropes and clichés, or why some books were bestsellers and others weren’t. I realized that if I wanted to be a professional writer, and have a life in this business, that I needed to bust my butt and actually pick up reading again.

So I did.

And I vastly improved in so many ways. From my writing craft, to my knowledge of the interest – everything about me and my writing improved. Since then, I’ve become an avid reader once again, and I read several books a month now. Reading can do so much for you, not as just a wonderful hobby, but

As Stephen King says, “If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time or the tools to write.”

3.) Writing is Rewriting

For the longest time I never understood this concept:

“What do you mean I have to rewrite the book?”
“I just finished the first draft. You mean I have to write everything all over again?”

Those – and other misconceptions – wracked my brain whenever I heard this piece of writing advice. But guess what? It’s true.

Now, this doesn’t mean you have to write your entire book from scratch, like I’d been led to believe. What this really means is that the first draft of anything you write will be crap. It will have awkward phrasing and prose, character motivations might not be clear, the dialogue might be stilted and awkward, crucial descriptions might be missing…and the only way to fix these issues to rewrite what you’d already written.

But having all of that in your first draft doesn’t make you a bad writer. Every writer in the history of writers has had to revise their books. It’s just part of the process.
When I first started writing, I didn’t understand this. I thought my first drafts were fine after a little reread and some editing – but I was very wrong.

Every novel needs time to sit after you’ve finished writing it. Every writer needs to come back to their project with a clear mind, so they can see what is and isn’t working within the manuscript, and that’s why getting feedback from outside sources is so important, too.

This is a concept I wish I’d understood years ago. If I’d known this sooner and given my earlier manuscripts time to sit and get feedback on them – and then give them the revisions they deserve – I wonder how much of a better chance I’d have had at hooking a literary agent. This is one piece of advice I’ve had to learn the hard way, but I’m so glad I understand it now.

Learning these three pieces of writing advice have helped me tremendously, and I hope they help you too!


Have any other pieces of writing advice you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments!

XOXO – Devon

Questions to Ask Beta Readers (My List)

Since we talked all about beta readers a few weeks ago, today, I thought I’d share my list of questions that I send out to my own betas. When I was first looking for betas back in the end of February, I came up with this list, and have been sending it out each time I enlist a beta. I find this list touches on everything that will help me as a writer know what needs to be fixed.

The important thing is to make sure you’re asking clear, concise questions that betas can answer easily. If you need more feedback based on something within the world, or a character, be sure to ask more detailed questions regarding that certain subject.

Note: This list is tailored to my own tastes and what I’m looking for betas to answer. Feel free to copy this list and switch it up to meet your own needs!

#1: Did you notice any obvious repeating grammatical, spelling, punctuation, or capitalization errors? Examples?
#2: Is there anything about the world-building that doesn’t make sense and could use elaboration? If so, please explain.
#3: Did the setting interest you? Was the world vivid in your imagination?
#4: Did the story hold your interest from the very beginning? Why or Why not?
#5: Were there any parts that confused you?
#6: Did you notice any inconsistencies? If so, where/what?
#7: Were there any spots where the story lagged or you lost interest? If so, why and where?
#8: Were there any scenes that bored you or had you skipping pages? Why?
#9: Was there enough conflict, tension, and intrigue to hold your interest?
#10: Were any parts of the plot predictable?
#11: What grabbed your attention most?
#12: Were you confused by the multiple POV’s?
#13: Who was your favorite POV? Why?
#14: Who was your least favorite POV? Why?
#15: What was your favorite and least favorite part of the book?
#16: Did the climax feel climactic, was the payoff in the end worth reading the whole book?
#17: Was the end satisfying?
#18: If this book were part of a series, would you pick up the sequel?
#19: What was your immediate thought after finishing the book?
#20: Lastly, why did you keep reading?
Bonus Question: Is there any way I can repay you for taking your valuable time to read my work? I am available to return the favor of a beta read as well!


What do you think of this list? Are you going to use it the next time you’re looking for betas? Let me know in the comments!

XOXO – Devon

August Recap 2019

To be honest, I don’t have too much to say about August. Oh…except that I got engaged! My (now) fiancé and I went on a little vacation at the beginning of the month, and he popped the question! Of course, I said yes, but I am so excited! We’ve already begun planning the wedding, and I am finding myself overwhelmed. There is so much to planning a wedding that I didn’t even think about.

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What I Wrote:

After much debate, I decided to trunk my YA thief novel. I’d lost momentum and inspiration, and found myself uninterested in working on it anymore. As much as I didn’t want to, I had to listen to what my mind was saying. It was pointless to force myself to write something I wasn’t passionate about anymore.

That said, I did start writing my Foreign Princess WIP, and am currently 18,000 words in! I’m aiming for at least 70k – 80k for this one, and so far, it’s going well!

What I Read:

Total: 4

Wilder Girls by Rory Power ★★★☆☆

I was so eager to read this book and anxiously awaited its arrival. There were so many things about this book that I was loving: survival of the fittest, deadly diseases, mutation – all of it was great. This book should’ve been a five stars from me.
And then the ending came.

While I don’t want to spoil it, the only real thing I can say is that there was hardly any resolution. Almost none of the questions brought up in the beginning were answered. The book ended on a very weird note, and I haven’t heard any confirmation that the author will be writing a sequel. If this remains a standalone novel, I will be very disappointed.

I’ll Never Tell by Abigail Haas ★★★☆☆

I am so torn on how I feel about this book. The novel follows Anna, a high school senior who goes on vacation with her friends. When one of her friends is murdered, Anna is to blame. The novel jumps between different timelines – detailing Anna’s life in school before the vacation, the events during the vacation, and then Anna as she is detained in prison while awaiting trial.

There was so much I loved about this. It was a great read, and I read almost all of it in one sitting. But much like Wilder Girls, once I got to the end, I was stunned at the twist. While it got me totally off guard, there were a lot of loose ends. While I really enjoyed this book, I don’t know if I would read it again.

Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan ★★★☆☆

I wanted to love this book – and I was. I loved the characters, the world, the magic, the atmosphere – everything about this book pulled me in from the very beginning. And then: the end came. The end of this book felt very rushed; many things were left unanswered, certain magic rules set in place suddenly flew out the window. This was the kind of book that I loved reading in the moment, but once I put it down, I started to notice a lot of inconsistencies within the plot.

Likewise, after every book I finish reading, I read other people’s reviews to see if they felt the same way I did. In reading and watching reviews of this book, many things were brought to my attention regarding discrepancies within the plot, the world, the characters, and with the author herself. It’s clear that the author borrowed many ideas from other source material – which, while this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since many authors do the same – the fact that so many different reviewers noticed almost plagiarized ideas made me feel a little uneasy.

All this said, I did enjoy this book enough to pick up the sequel. Considering this is the author’s debut novel, I’m willing to look past some of the issues and give her a second chance.

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig ★★★★☆

I really, really enjoyed this book. Craig’s debut novel is a dark fantasy retelling of the classic fairytale Twelve Dancing Princesses. There was so much about this book from the characters, world-building and writing that I really enjoyed. I read 130 pages of this book in one sitting, and when I picked it up again, I could not put it down!

The only reason I’m not giving it five stars are because of a few little, nit-picky things that I can’t mention without spoiling the whole book. But otherwise, I highly recommend picking this one up!

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What I’m Watching:

The fiancé and I finished watching Dragon Ball Z Super, which we loved. I’ve been watching The Originals more as well, but as of right now, we have no idea what to watch together as a couple! Any recommendations?

Currently Reading:

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How I Did: August Goals

At the beginning of August, I gave myself several goals:

• Finish revising adult fantasy WIP
• Finish writing YA Thief Idea
• Send adult fantasy back out to beta readers
• Create blog schedule for September and October
• Start writing YA Foreign Princess Idea
• Start plotting new adult fantasy romance idea
• Research literary agents
• Revise query letter for adult fantasy WIP

I’m happy to say that I completed five and a half of these goals!

For starters, I not only finished revising my adult fantasy WIP, but I also sent it out to beta readers! I even researched literary agents and revised my query letter. It still needs work, but I’ve got a good start! I also created my blog schedule for September and already have them my posts scheduled and ready to go. And as I mentioned above, I started writing my Foreign Princess WIP! All in all, I feel pretty good about the goals I accomplished last month.

September Goals:

• Finish writing Foreign Princess WIP
• Organize list of literary agents
• Get submission materials ready for Pitch Wars
• Submit to Pitch Wars
• Plot out adult fantasy WIP sequel


How was everyone’s August? Let me know in the comments!

XOXO – Devon

The 101 on Beta Readers (And Where to Find Them)

One of the most important steps in an author’s writing journey is getting feedback on their work. No matter if you’ve written your first draft or your tenth, feedback is always valuable. As authors, we are so close to our own work that it can be difficult to catch mistakes – whether they be plot holes, character inconsistencies, or pacing. This is where having a beta reader comes in.

Critique Partners and Beta Readers

Critique Partners

A critique partner – or CP, for short – is a fellow writer on the same journey as you. Unlike beta readers, who will be reading the work as a whole, a CP will help you look at your work on a more personal level. They’ll help you spot plot holes, character and world inconsistencies, help you brainstorm ideas, and so much more. With your CP, they’ll not only be looking at your own work with a close eye, but you’ll also be looking at their work as well.

It’s both polite, and common curtesy, to give back what you receive. Don’t be a bad CP and take their feedback without giving some of your own!

More often than not, by gaining a CP, you also gain a friendship. Having someone in your corner who roots for you every step of the way is so helpful in the writing process.

Beta Readers

Beta readers – or simply known as betas – can be writers themselves, or just people who love to read. Unlike CP’s, who will most likely know your book inside and out, a beta will go into your book with fresh eyes, unknowing what awaits inside, much like a reader would if they picked your book off the shelf.

A betas feedback is beneficial, as they’ll tell you how they felt about the book as a whole. Did they like the story? Did it grip them the entire way through? Were there any parts where the pacing dragged? These are all things betas will be able to point out to you. They’ll be able to tell where the weakest and strongest parts of the novel are in a way that the writer – who’s so close to the project – can’t always see.

While you can enlist family and friends to be beta readers for you, it’s best to find someone who has an unbiased opinion of you and your work. Your family and friends most likely won’t be honest with their feedback, in an attempt not to hurt your feelings, so finding someone who can lay on the hard truths about your work is more beneficial to your growth as a writer.

NOTE: A beta reader and CP are in no way obligated to do any editing for your novel. Don’t expect them to do line edits, copy edits, developmental edits, etc…unless you and your CP or beta have specifically agreed to exchange any type of editing for one another.

But How Do You Find Them?

The only way to find beta readers and critique partners is to get involved in the Writing Community. I find Twitter in particular to be the easiest place to meet writers, but there are plenty of other places, too.

Twitter Hashtags and Chats:

• #amwriting
• #amreading
• #amrevising
• #amediting
• #WritingCommunity
• #AngstySquares
• #MuseMon
• #1lineWed
• #StorySocial (Every Wednesday at 8pm CST)
• #Chance2Connect (The second Tuesday of every month at 8pm CST)
• #WritersPatch (Every Sunday at 10am CST)

Facebook Groups:

Free Beta Readers, Free Critiques, and Paid Editors
Professional Beta Readers
Beta Readers & Critiques
Writers Helping Writers
Writers, Beta Readers, Critique, Advice, Writing Exercise & Rainbows!
First Chapter Critique Group

Reddit:

BetaReadit
Beta Readers

NOTE: I’ve also heard that Goodreads is an excellent place to find beta readers, but I’ve personally never tried it. I’ve found all of my beta readers and CP’s from Twitter.

When Should You Start Looking?

You can start looking for beta readers whenever you feel ready, but it’s important to do so BEFORE looking for a literary agent, editor, or attempting to publish. It’s also recommend that your draft is as clean as possible before sending it to betas. You want them to focus on the STORY – not the grammar and spelling mistakes inside.

A good beta reader can catch many of the mistakes as I’ve mentioned above, and many of these things can be fixed with a few rounds of revisions. No matter if you’re looking to traditional or self-publish, you always want to have your manuscript as good as you can get it. Having a manuscript littered with easily fixable mistakes will not only bring rejection, but often, more work for an editor (who will only charge you more for their time, if you’ve hired a freelance editor).

What Should You Ask?

The more specific you are, the better the feedback will be. Give your betas something to look for or keep in mind while they’re reading. Here’s some examples from my own beta reader questionnaire that I sent with my last WIP:

• Is there anything about the world-building that doesn’t make sense or needs elaboration?
• Did the setting interest you? Was the world vivid in your imagination?
• Did the story hold your interest from the very beginning? Why or why not?
• Were there any spots where the story lagged or you lost interest? If so, why and where?
• Were there any scenes that bored you or had you skipping pages? Why?
• Was there enough conflict, tension, and intrigue to hold your interest?
• Were any parts of the plot predictable?
• What grabbed your attention most?

Feel free to be as detailed or simple with your questions as you see fit!

How Many Beta’s Do You Need?

As many as you think you do! There’s no right or wrong answer to this question, but my personal advice would be to secure ten beta readers, at least!

The reason I say this is because you want a wide variety of people to look at your manuscript. Everyone will come at it with a different opinion and take on what they get out of the story. With ten different pieces of feedback from ten different people, it can be easier to pinpoint what is and isn’t working.

Example:

If you have ten beta readers and eight of them finish the book saying they LOVED the ending, but two said they were disappointed, whose feedback do you agree with? But if eight beta readers say they hated the ending, and two say they loved it, what do you do then?

If a majority of beta readers come to the same conclusion on what aspect of your story isn’t working (Act I dragged, this character fell flat, they loved the ending, etc…) more often than not, they’re right. If one or two beta out of ten mention, it could be their personal opinion.

It’s also beneficial to have a larger number of beta readers in case someone doesn’t finish. People are very busy, and even though people may commit to read your work, not everyone always sees it through. Make sure you have enough betas that if someone does stop reading, then you’ll still have plenty of feedback to work with!

What To Look For in a Beta Reader

Familiarity in Your Genre

You’ll want to find someone who actively reads what you write. For example, if you’re writing an epic fantasy complete with sword fights and dragons, but give your manuscript to someone who has never picked up a fantasy book in their life – well, their feedback might not be the best.

You want to find someone who would be in your target audience.

Honesty

Finding someone who can be brutally honest is the next thing to look for. It may sting at first, but you’ll have to grow a thick skin. Find someone who won’t sugar coat things.

How to Work With a Beta Reader

Develop a Thick Skin

To be a writer, you have to have thick skin. It’s just the way the profession goes. You will face rejection every step of the way, and working with betas readers will be no different.
The beta reader stage is all about whipping your manuscript into shape. It’s about fixing everything you can’t see with your own eyes. A beta reader’s job is to judge your manuscript, not you.

Ask Questions

As I mentioned above, asking questions is so important. By asking detailed questions and getting detailed answers back, you can see where your manuscript will need the most work.

Analyze Their Feedback

Once you get your feedback, it may take a while to digest. I recommend reading all of it and letting it stew in your mind for a couple of days before trying to make changes. Having betas also gives you a chance to step away from the manuscript. Take a step back and really think about what they’ve said, why they’ve said, and if they’re right.

NOTE: Beta readers are not always right. Take everything they say with a grain of salt. Remember, this is still your work, and you can choose to agree or disagree.

Swap

I personally think the best way you can pay a beta reader back is by offering to beta read for them in return. Betas take time out of their lives to read your work, and returning the favor is one of the best things you can do. When I enlisted my beta readers, I offered to return the favor to every one of them.

At the end of the day, having beta reader’s feedback is one of the most valuable things you can have as a writer. Beta readers help to make your story stronger, and help you grow as a writer. It’s important not to skip this step in your writing process!


How do you work with beta readers? Are these tips helpful? Let me know in the comments!

XOXO – Devon