Tag Archives: feedback

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.

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

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

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