I have DEAD INSIDE in to the publisher and editor, but it is also being read by several beta readers. What is a beta reader, you ask? It’s someone who gets to see the unedited, unpublished work before it ‘hits the shelves’ and gives me feedback on flow, character development, action, and the general ‘feel’ of the book.
Yesterday I sat down with two of my beta readers to discuss what they thought. They had insights into elements of the book that I hadn’t realised that I had put in there. For example, our two lead characters have very distinct personalities that make complete sense based on their backgrounds. I sat and listened as they told me this, and realised that it wasn’t something I had consciously included.
Other examples included the analysis of the ending, and the questions about How Zombies Work, that made me think a few things through. Clarity is essential, and if there is something I missed, or overlooked because ‘everyone knows that’ then clearly I failed to realise that Not Everyone Knows That, and I have to explain myself better.
The value of the beta reader, then, is that they are a set of eyes and a brain Not Your Own, who can look at your work and point out the problems you might not see because you are too close to the work. Another beta reader has pointed out that my villain is not quite right. She’s been very helpful in showing me some information that will help immensely, and I have been ‘darkening’ the bad guy accordingly.
We’ll see how all this comes together once I hear back from my editor.