Monday, August 24, 2015

A new approach with BETA readers.

Too cute not to share her picture again.

So much to say about this new method (no, I am not claiming to have invented it, but I do know it is NOT the norm). With DEAD: Snapshot--Leeds, England, I took a new approach when it came to working with my amazing Beta readers. Instead of dumping the entire thing in their lap, and then letting it trickle in (not all who sign up or say they want in actually reply after you send them the ARC), I decided to send them the book one chapter at a time. 

This method allowed me to make fixes and/or changes in small bites. I believe that this also allowed me to connect more with my amazing Beta readers. Instead of just a "wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am/man" method, we were able to address issues as they arose. Also, after the changes and fixes were worked out, I would send them a a section (3 chapters) of the material where they could see their suggestions put in to play. Also, if something was missed on that first run through, it was likely captured in subsequent looks. 

Pre-order it HERE!
This week (and maybe part of next week, I want to feature a few of my Beta readers and their responses to some questions that I had. Any writer will tell you that their Beta readers are amazing and are a large part of making the final book a better read. Not only do they tell you if you get long-winded, confusing, or perhaps forget that you killed that certain character two chapters earlier and need to take that into account in a scene where that same character saves the day...or dies again.

Without delay, let's here what Melena has to say. Bonus...I will scatter pictures of an adorable Newfoundland puppy throughout these answers as incentive to you, the reader.

Nap time!

1. What do you like about being a Beta Reader (maybe not just for me, but for others as

As a fan, I enjoy, of course, the fact I get to read the book before it's actually published. I'm not
the most patient of person, so it's nice not to have to wait until it's in print (or on audio). But I also
enjoy thinking I'm helping in some way to iron out the kinks, so to speak. It's almost like a game
for me, so when I can spot a misspell or something, I feel like I just won a prize. It's a silly idea,
maybe, but it's fun for me.

2. For somebody seeing an announcement for being a Beta Reader, help demystify the
situation for them and tell them what it is all about.

I actually only came across the idea of a beta reader by seeing it on your Facebook and it was
immediately interesting for me. I think it's an awesome idea, to run a novel through a group of
readers, who help find grammatical errors, as well as any hiccups or conflictions in the story.
Maybe offer opinions if you don't feel a particular bit is working. Basically, you relate if you feel the
novel's good or not and why or why not this bit or that is or isn't working.

She would nap here if we let her.

3. I did things different with this title. I sent a single chapter at a time every day or every
other day. Then, I packaged up each third AFTER making the fixes or addressing issues
raised by some of the Beta Readers. What were the positives and negatives of this method
versus sending an entire project at once?

I believe the positives were more for you, the author, as it gave you ample time to fix things early
on, rather than maybe having to rewrite greater sections, according to what feedback you
received. But as a reader, it also meant less time reading each day, which if you have a busy
schedule, is usually important. The negatives were that, as a reader, it was sometimes difficult to
be caught with a cliffhanger and having to wait for the next chapter. I usually found myself having
a couple chapters open, anyway, and reading back. It can sometimes get distracting, the stopping
and starting with each new chapter presented, so I'd have to go back and make sure what I'd read
before. That's not to say I didn't like this way of doing things, I think it was less of an undertaking
with no pressure behind it. An ideal situation if you have little free time.

4. Do you prefer this “new” method of Beta reading, or would you rather receive the entire
project at once?

For me, either way is fine. I like being able to read it all at once, but I also like the idea of taking
my time and hopefully catching more issues. In the end, it's what helps the author more, so I'm
certainly okay with either method.

Cute? Umm...yes.

5. What can an author do to entice more people to become Beta Readers?

Honestly, I think if you need to 'bribe' or entice them by offering something, you run the chance of
finding readers less mindful of doing what they're there to do. Does that make sense? I think
doing this is an honor, really. For me, it was a bit of a humbling experience. Maybe it's my
admiration for you as a writer that makes me feel that way, or to think that I might, in any way,
benefit you in doing this. But with that mindset, I feel I really wanted to do a good job and to help. I
guess, on the flipside, though, some might want to do it if they know they're getting something in
return, like a free copy of the book or something. I hate to say offer money, because I think that
kind of defeats the purpose of your doing this to make money. Personally, once again, I just loved
the idea of getting to read it without having to wait. That was incentitive enough!

6. Now, we talk about DEAD: Snapshot—Leeds, England. If there was one reason to grab
this book, what would it be?

The obvious answer would be ZOMBIES! If you're a fan of them, any of TW Brown's books are
must haves. I do like that with Dead:Snapshot--­Leeds, England, that you get to experience a bit of
a different culture (if you're not from that area of the world) and gain a different perspective on
how other countries deal with the threat of zombies. Also. Bacon sandwhich. You'll have to get the
book to know what that means!

7. Without giving away any serious spoilers, what scene stood out for you?

There's one scene that will, undoubtedly, stick with me forever, because it was one of those
scenes you get no answer as to why, or how. It just is. I know that's really vague, but I don't want
to spoil it. Just trust me, when you read it, you're going to be like, "Nooooo! But whyyyyyy? What's
going on?!" Also, the child zombies in any of TW Brown's books always stand out for me. I love
his take on them and they're seriously creepy and sad, all the same time.

Lisa wanted to remind the world that SHE is cute as well as she imitates a bat.

8. What makes the DEAD series stand out from other zombie series?

First and foremost, they're very well written. The amount of characters and twists and plots keep
you interested and invested. I love that we, the readers, get so many different views and takes on
the same global tragedy. Humans don't handle the same situation in the same ways as everyone
else, and I like getting a taste of those differences in the DEAD series. It's impossible to get bored
when reading these books, and as you go along, you find yourself immersed in this storyline or
that one, so you always look forward to getting back to that particular group of survivors. Of
course, there are times when you REALLY like a particular character, only to have them die. It's
all part of the realism that TW Brown brings into his books (zombie plot aside). So be careful who
you get attached to. Even so, every time I had to stop reading and mourn, swearing I'd not read
anymore, I kept finding myself coming back for more. This series is highly addicting.

9. The DEAD: Snapshot—{insert town here} series is a spinoff with each book being a
standalone story set in a specific location. My hope is to capture the feel of the location
and make the reader feel like they are “on location”. I bring up Google Earth and go down
to the street level view as I write to try and bring the location in as a secondary character.
How likely are you to pop over to Google Earth to check out a strange and unfamiliar locale
just to get a feel for where the adventure is taking place? Or does the location not really

Actually, I've already done this. I'm still learning about Google Earth though, and it makes me a bit
dizzy to maneuver, but at least I got a sense of the area and probably would have never gave it a
glance, without reading this book.

Freyja playing "Where's Waldo?"

10. Should I make it a point to invite the readers to utilize Google Earth in my introduction?

Sure! Disorienting or not, Google Earth is still a neat tool to check out!

11. Last question: You are being asked to determine which of my main characters
survives. Any pressure?

No pressure, no; just worry that the vote won't sway on my side, so the character I actually like will
be killed. However, I'm used to TW Brown killing my favorite characters, by this point, so nothing
new, right? *laugh*


  1. I too use tools to explore and give depth to my favorite authors' stories. GOOGLE Earth is amazing for research purposes.