In a comment, mesadallas asked about beta reading, and it too is something I need to expand on and so am putting in its own post.
The answer to the question as to how many I have for Sing My Name is not enough. So if any of you who have commented here think you would like to give it a try, let me know. You certainly are all readers who know and love historical romance. Before you do that, though, read about what’s involved so you know what you’re getting into and can decide if it’s something you really want to do.
From me at least, a beta reader is not going to get a finished copy of the book. It’s not too drafty, but it’s not through a final look-at-every-sentence review or proofreading either. It’s not going to have the pretty formatting I did for the final copies of Eyes and RR with the cover image, title page with image, T/C, etc. (Although it may look as good as what you get from Smashwords; I don’t have a lot of faith in their “Meatgrinder” converter.)
So I’m not asking for proofreading or much in the way of micro stuff, although I have no problems with anything anyone has to offer. There was a woman in my critique group, for instance, who was great at identifying portions of a manuscript where there was little or no sentence variety, and the fact is if I haven’t noticed something like that in this book yet, I probably need help to see it.
But for the most part what I need is feedback on the story itself. Does it hold interest? Are there flat spots, where and why? How’s the pacing? Do you like the characters you should like in a romance and hate the ones you should hate? Are they consistent? Are they realistic?
If you don’t think you can bring yourself to speak up with your honest reactions even if they’re negative, you’re probably not cut out for this kind of thing. After I wrote Eyes I had 3 people read it. All I got were the “it’s great” type reactions, and at least I was smart enough to know those people were just being nice. On some of the author forums I see posts from indies who say, “My spouse and umpty friends loved it, so I know it’s a decent book,” and I think, uh oh, you poor smuck. Friends and family have to live with you in the future, and they aren’t going to tell you the truth, even if they’re qualified to.
You also have to realize I’m going to take anything anyone says into consideration but won’t necessarily change things if in the end I don’t agree or just like whatever I originally had. When I was in the critique group I got good at sitting there and smiling through any and all sorts of criticism and learned to keep a pretty good lid on the defensiveness, so no one has to worry about hurting my feelings, but I also got pretty good at making up my mind which advice to take and which not to take.
And of course you have to swear in blood that you will delete the raw version of the book after you read it and not send it to a friend or two. Not only do I need some people out there who will actually buy the final book, but I don’t want a flawed, unproofed copy floating around either. I can and will send anyone who does this a gift copy of the published version. ~Ellen