Monday, June 30, 2014

Why do you NEED a Beta Reader?

First a note on Beta Readers. Every writer worth a darn has few. They are invaluable and worth their weight in gold. This book is better because of them. And the beauty is that, after I have "painstakingly" edited this book...I hand it over to others who then send me back a laundry list of missed errors. And even better...all of them had "catches" that the others missed.

What does that say? It says that nobody is perfect. It says that we ALL need a little help. It says that it is okay to allow others to have input. I am always amazed when people (readers who have read my stuff to be more specific) contact me and pre-apologize for pointing out my errors or offering me a suggestion about how something REALLY works. They are helping me and apologizing? What has this world come to when a person has to feel the need to apologize for being helpful?

I even have a few AMAZING people who drop me a note to correct continuity errors in my books. Thank God for these people. They are not doing harm! They are making ME a better writer...making my books a better read.

And now, for those of you who might skip over or ignore the Author's Notes that I place at the start of my books...let me share the one for DEAD: Spring which comes out tomorrow!

What’s in a word?
Authors love to talk word count. How many they got each day, that sort of thing. One of the issues that I had with A LOT of the zombie fiction out there was that the word count was maybe 60-70,000. That might seem like a lot, and it is respectable, but there are others who do not even hit the 50,000 word benchmark that classifies a piece of work as novel length.
The norm in the DEAD series is 100,000. Decent by most standards; maybe not as lengthy as some, but still respectable. This baby is something that I am very proud of. And not just the words count (over 173,000!), I am happy where the stories took me (and you as you dive in). The bottom line is that I feel good about this book.
So what can YOU do? Honestly? Your reviews make all the difference. It moves my book into the “Amazon Consciousness” so that those little “If you read this, you might like…” emails that Amazon sends out go to more people. Tell your friends. Start a book club. Heck, I am always willing to do something special for a book club. You get seven or so people together and make a run through the DEAD series, you can bet that I will be happy to host a Q & A, or just about anything.
Here is the reality…I am not Stephen King. And while I do make a very good living as a writer, it is not as glamorous as you might believe. I am a stay-at-home kinda guy with OCD (I say it is minor…but my wife laughs when I say it, so…). My wife goes to work and I do the cooking, the cleaning, and the writing. She says it is a little like being married to Adrian Monk because I am a very scheduled kind of person and a “clean freak.”
So let’s talk just a little about this book. I wanted to really reward the reader for hanging this long. Nine books is a BUNCH, We are closing in on a million words! I really left you hanging in the last book…so this is your “prize” for being such a good sport.
I catch a lot of flak for having main characters die. I think that is one of the things that keeps this “real.” Besides, isn’t it a bit more fun when bad things start to happen and you DON’T know that somebody is safe? Me personally, I always hated that when I read. When my heroes go into a situation, I want to feel the danger.
One other thing that I will address: in real life, you don’t always get a clear answer. You sometimes get an answer that you need to interpret and decide which aspect of it you want to use. Then, based on what you know of a situation or person, you come to a conclusion. I think it gives the reader something to chew on if they have a series of facts and a few suppositions and then they get to decide why they think something happened or a person acted a certain way. I know not everybody will agree, but that is what makes the world a great place…differing views.
One more thing; the DEAD: Snapshot series will be coming very soon. I have received a lot of requests from people that want to see what happened to their town in a DEAD universe. I will say that the first (after the 12th book in the DEAD series…so we have a little while still) will be DEAD: Snapshot—Portland, Oregon. So you might get a guest appearance by a few familiar names. But keep those requests coming. Who knows…you may see your hometown on an upcoming cover. And in this one…size DOES NOT matter. I would be just as likely to write about Mudhole, Wyoming as I would Tokyo, Japan.
I do have a few people to thank, so indulge me just a few more seconds. To Sophie, Michele, Tammy, Tim and Debra, my Beta readers for this one, as well as David Redding who comes in after and sweeps up all the messy details, you have my gratitude. And, as always, my family; despite my insistence of being left alone to work…I still need you to be that very important part of my life.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Todd for letting me be a beta reader for you. Love all your works!