I chose four beta readers for my NICU memoir entitled Growing A Rainbow: The Premature Journey of a Two Pound Hero. It’s been pointed out to me that four is a high number. However, I stood by my decision and it hasn’t caused any problems yet.
This month, I review their advice and put the final polish on my draft. I’m keeping an aggressive timeline for self-publishing. I believe that it will keep my momentum rolling towards a worthy finished product. Printer date: June 1st. Launch: November 2014. That gives me some cushion room, too.
What is a beta reader? It’s not your spouse – unless you’re married to Steven King or J. K. Rowling! And my hubby isn’t the best beta reader for this book because he’s too close to the material.
Belinda Pollard posted her criteria for good beta readers. I think it’s an excellent article and I highly recommend it to any aspiring writers.
One of my beta readers is close to the subject material (prematurity) but she’s never met me in person. The other three are parents, but not of preemies. I wanted to be sure that my translation of our NICU experienced remained accessible to people who didn’t have premature children. It also needed to stay true to that of preemie parents.
My editor helped me bridge that gap, too. She’d write notes in the margin when the “tech babble” overwhelmed the story. It’s a fine line to negotiate; showing how medical a preemie baby’s life is without losing the audience.
The next month is as an exciting step as my first day of writing the draft last year. I’ve learned a lot since then. I’ll also view the book through my beta reader’s “fresh” eyes.
My fiction, The Queen’s Viper, isn’t on the back burner. When my mind isn’t focused on a task, I inevitably return to the New and Old Londons of my imagination. In fact, I think I’ve finally settled on the all important opening sentence! That writing is very different, both in audience and approach.
I’m going to split my creative hours between both the polish of the memoir’s final draft and the roughing out of the supernatural fiction. I find the opposite natures of the stories stimulating!
Of course, the impatient side of my brain wants to take a complete leave of absence from my paying job and get it all done, printed, drawn and distributed right *now*. Being in a comic book store for Free Comic Book Day and seeing Game of Thrones in graphic novel format did not help that future thinking side of me!
But it is inspiring! Good thing I know a number of great artists!