I recently wrote a book that was supposed to complete my science fiction trilogy (*note: It has become a series more than a trilogy. This group of three books is focused on the same main characters.) It was the first time that I’ve written a book without a reader for at least part of it. No one has read this book to date. As I began to edit and prepare for publication, this fact began to bother me more and more. I had sent it out to people to read and generally the feedback was along the lines of “it’s good but I just haven’t had time and I’ll get to it next week for sure.” Now, that’s completely fine. We’re not all reading addicts and we all have busy lives. My fear grew though as the same reasons happened repeatedly. Was there something wrong with the book?
Last night, one of my readers was finally honest about the manuscript. They said no, it wasn’t working. They weren’t taken in by the story, not like they had been with the first two. Now, let me point out that I’ve completely written the book by now and edited a major part of it. But instead of feeling overwhelmed and devastated, I actually felt relief. Okay, it wasn’t working. I immediately began to think about how I’d written it and how to go about doing it better. My only regret is that I didn’t catch this sooner.
I think some of my early fear and now relief is tied to how I wrote it. Looking back on the piece, I was very focused on tying up all those loose strings. Maybe I spent too much time telling and not enough time showing, a common fault in writing. But the characters are still speaking with me and together, hopefully, we’ll figure out how to change this so the story can come back to life for my readers.
So, more than ever, if you are a beta/early reader for a writer, take a lot of pride in that trust. Some writers absolutely need that feedback and it’s an essential part of the process. And please always be honest. You can say hard truths in kind ways. But saying nothing doesn’t help.
As you can tell, there will now be a delay in the publication of the third book in the Pure Red Sand Series. But you can still find the first two and catch up with Nadine and Sven while I try and make sure their stories come to a better end.
This post goes out to my beta reader for the third book. They are very much appreciated.