Happy Wednesday, All! So, today we’re all in luck because the uber talented Christina C. Jones is guest posting today about beta readers (click here to check out her post on building your author platform). And guess what else? Her latest release, Fall in Love Again, is now available! It’s the third book in her Serendipitous Love Series (check out all the books here) and if you haven’t read one of her books before, do yourself a favor and hop on over to Amazon.
I’ve said it here before but I’ll say it again: Christina is one of the most talented and prolific authors I’ve come across. Believe it or not, Fall in Love Again is her tenth release–since last year. She has an amazing work ethic so I can’t wait to share her advice with you all. Enjoy!
In my (humble) opinion, one of the best things you can do for yourself and your book is recruiting honest, outspoken beta readers. Now, I’m not one of those people who believes in the “value” of harsh critique — let’s get that out of the way up front. I gain nothing from having my work ripped to shreds by people who are supposed to be “helping” me. So, I’m certainly not recommending you find people who will do that to you. I am, however, suggesting that you find people who can point out inconsistencies, give their respectfully honest opinion on what works — and doesn’t — for them, and ask questions about things that left them confused. That is a good beta reader to me.
My chosen genre is contemporary romance. As such, I deal with a lot of different dynamics in the relationships of my characters, which can draw some pretty heavy lines in the sand for readers. What my betas do for me is: give me their thoughts as they read — helps me discern if my words are giving the same emotional reaction I think they should, make inquiries about certain elements — lets me know that they’re engaged, interested, ready to see what happens next… or just friggin’ confused, and answer a set list of questions that I give them at a particular point in the book — usually mid-way.
I ask a lot on this list. What’s your opinion of XYZ character, can you clearly picture them in your head, do you understand their actions/reactions to this event? Are the love scenes developed organically? Do they make sense? Is there any part of the book that feels slow? Does one scene lead smoothly into the next?
These are things that I’m too close to the story to see for myself. I don’t use my betas as an idea factory, I use them to make sure that my ideas are clearly translated onto the page, because their value isn’t in telling me what to write — it’s in telling me how they feel about what I wrote.
If only one of my betas understood that I was including commentary about the next generation of our children inheriting violence in our world, by having a kid playing with a red ball at a park (get it? Ball=globe, red = blood… okay, yeah, I’m stretching it, huh? Lol!), then I know I need to rethink my words. If everybody except one understood… then maybe I still need to rethink my words for clarity. But it does tell me that for the most part, my words have been understood.
I have a team of betas who are (mostly) unknown to each other, and fluctuates in size. As of now, that number is seven. They vary in reading preferences and speeds, age, personality, etc, which is so important. You don’t want all of your betas to be just like you, or just like each other. That way, you’ll get a nice variety of opinions to sift through and pull out what works for you and your project.
Every critique you receive from your betas isn’t something you should go rushing to change or adjust. Remember, it’s their opinion, but your work. Ultimately, you should always make the decision that feels right for you, your process, and your book, but it should absolutely be an informed opinion.
Several of my betas were readers that I approached, and a few approached me, but they’ve all been super valuable, especially in this last project. My characters get themselves into some messy — maybe even unrelatable — situations, and my betas reacted. Boy, did they react.
And… I got scared.
They were mad at the hero, mad at heroine, mad at the secondary characters, lol! All with good reason, honestly. Some things I adjusted — most I didn’t — but I ended up with a project that is as I envisioned it. I told the story I intended to tell, and my betas let me know that Charlie and Nixon’s story is beautiful, flaws and all. The helped bolster the confidence to just tell it!
It’s actually my favorite so far, and I’ve heard from several readers of the series — this book, Fall In Love Again, is my tenth release, third in a series of standalones — that this one is their favorite as well.
Do yourself a favor. Find some trusted (some authors even have their betas sign release forms and such, but I’ve never personally felt a need for that) readers in your genre, send an email, and ask!
Quanie, thank you again for having me!
Everybody knows you don’t marry the rebound guy.
And yet, that’s exactly what Charlie does. But once the husband is out of picture — kinda — she’s ready to leap forward with her life. She returns to the neighborhood she left, the business she missed, and into arm’s reach of Nixon — the reason she needed a rebound guy in the first place.
Other than rebuilding her life, Charlie has one main goal now that she’s back in the place she considers home: Stay as far away from Nixon as she can. But their long history, his magnetic charm, and a certain sense of unfinished business makes that much, much harder than Charlie thought.
Nixon is willing to own up to his part in their break up, but for Charlie, finding a place of forgiveness is going to take much more than that. She’s willing to take a chance on friendship — something they’ve had since they were kids — but falling in love again? That’s a whole different story.
Christina Jones is a budding author on a mission to show the beautiful — but not always pretty — journey of love in all stages, with a focus on people of color. When she’s not immersed in writing it, Christina is an avid reader of her favorite genre, African American romance.
Her first published work was released in November 2013, and since then, she has released ten titles:
Love and Other Things
The Trouble With Love
A Crazy Little Thing Called Love
Didn’t Mean To Love You
Catch Me If You Can
Fall in Love Again