The stages of writing – and finding a good beta reader

There are many stages to writing a book. Here’s my personal list:

  1. Plot
  2. Rearrange plot
  3. Writing (editing lightly as I go)
  4. First round of edits (aka draft 2)
  5. Work on third draft (aka more edits)
  6. Send to an alpha (first) reader
  7. Another round of edits based on beta’s suggestions (draft 4)
  8. Send to my beta reader
  9. Another round of edits (draft 5)
  10. Return to beta reader, who then not only reads and critiques, but also edits to a reasonable degree
  11. Final round of edits (draft 6).
  12. Work on query letter (start this after you get a novel done, because you’ll be editing it the entire time you’re reading!)
  13. Submit to agents or publishers

This process can take anywhere from 6 months to over 2 years to fully realize. Some of the steps also take place at the same time, depending on how my alpha or beta readers are going.

My beta reader is a close friend of mine, Isabella Price, and someone who also runs a successful editing business. We beta each other’s works and work with each other on multiple stages of our books. In my experience, it can be hard to find a good, honest beta who’s not afraid to tell you “This isn’t working” or “This doesn’t make any sense” – or drop compliments like “I love this description” or “I could picture this perfectly”. What works in Ms Price’s and my favors is that our writing styles are different enough that we compliment each other’s styles.

I’ve worked with multiple beta readers, and I’ve had many clashes of character and writing styles. You aren’t going to work good with everyone who wants to read your work, and that’s not a bad thing! Keep searching until you find a beta reader that you work well with, and hang on to them with everything you have.


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