Tag Archive | beta readers

Writing a Book is Hard

I wrote this thing, this book-type thing. It’s a memoir of my years in retail management, and I’ve been working on it for over five years now. Today, I finished it. I’ve done all I can do by myself. I’ve written, re-written, re-organized, cut and pasted and added and deleted. I’ve read it and re-read it, had a few people read early versions that bear little resemblance to the manuscript now sitting beside me. And I think it’s done. I mean, of course, it’s not DONE done. I’m sure there will be more edits in the future. But I feel good about it (as good as one can feel about their own writing). It FEELS done. I think the major revisions are done, and now it’ll be tweaking to take out boring sections, flesh out good sections, building up the themes. For that, I need people.

My husband will be first, and I know he will be supportive and encouraging, and gentle in his suggestions. I’ve got a former co-worker in mind too, to make sure I wasn’t unfairly harsh or critical of our team. She’s a smart, well-read woman whom I trust to be honest but kind. And then I need someone who’s not related to me and who wasn’t part of that retail world, and I’m still pondering that. How do you find a good beta reader?

Then, I have to figure out what steps to take next. It would seem that memoirs are hard to sell, based on what I’ve read from agents. They need to be exceptional, and I’m not convinced I am, or that my story is. I’m a good writer, but does this story stand out? Why would a reader pick my book? What would they get from it? Is my story different enough from so many others? Would an agent even consider me without a strong platform? What the heck IS a platform anyway?

I’m still trying to find answers to those. And I’m pondering self-publishing too. It would be quicker, and I know that most of my former co-workers would love to read it. But I can’t help it: there’s a part of me that wants the validation of traditional publication. It would mean that someone out there valued my writing, thought it was worthy of sharing with the world. But why does that matter to me? Why can’t my own opinion be enough? Because I’ve seen too many self-published books that should never have been published, and I don’t want people to put me in that category.

So I’m going to find the list of memoir-friendly agents that I made, and I’m going to start researching. What do I lose by trying? (I mean besides my self-esteem and confidence.) Maybe I’ll get rejected 100 times, and then I’ll reconsider self-publishing. Or maybe, just maybe, I’ll find that one agent who thinks it’s worthy. Wouldn’t that be something?

What I Can’t Show You

I’ve got a lot of secret knitting going on. I’ve finished a baby present, but I can’t show you yet. I’m making good progress on my sister’s project bag, but I can’t show you that either. I frogged my light gray mesh scarf and restarted it with fewer stitches and bigger needles, but I don’t have enough knit to make it worth taking a photo. Lots of knitting, but no proof!

What I can share is that I pulled up my memoir manuscript the other day and started reading through it. I was pleasantly surprised: it’s much closer to being “done” than I remembered. I made it about halfway through and was really only making minor changes. The not so pleasant part: now I’m convinced it’s terrible and boring and no one could ever possibly find it interesting. The cycles of writing, right? I think I’ve just reached a point where I need to find an unbiased reader to tell me what’s working and what’s not. So I’ll plow through the second half and figure out where to go from there. All you other writers out there, where/how do you find a good beta reader or critique partner?

Until I figure that out, it’s back to the couch I go with my little big furry friends. I’ll do some proofreading, a bit of knitting. I’ve discovered Gilmore Girls, which I’ve never seen before, and I’m loving it. It’s fabulous knitting TV. The husband’s not a fan, though, so I’ll try to keep it to daytime bingeing. These two don’t complain! IMG_2176