It breaks my heart to say this but my schedule has gone so far awry that I don’t think I have time to get feedback from beta readers.
Underestimating revisions and overestimating myself
I have earned myself a bit of a reputation as a chronic underestimator of the amount of time a task will take me to complete. When it comes to revisions, I’ve lived up to my reputation.
In my head, I’m still the college student who could crank out a whole thesis in four days, powered by copious amounts of Coke (the fizzy drink, not the drug) and text threads with classmates pulling the exact same stunt. I ran on very little sleep, survived on takeaway as a nightly reward for my academic efforts and somehow managed to string enough coherent sentences together to get a high B grade. In short, I was unstoppable.
But now, just a few years later, I’ve come to value sleep more than the payoff of any completed project. So the all-nighters are behind me, along with the miraculous output of a job reasonably well done in a short space of time.
And so, I have to face the music: revisions take time and I’m running out of that.
I've revised my schedule more than my book!
At first, I had grand plans of getting a pool of thirty beta readers to weigh in on Dear Blue before a draft would ever make its way to my editor. This would also include carefully-selected sensitivity readers to cover all my bases.
Then, as it took me longer and longer to make progress, I decided to limit my beta readers to around ten. I just didn’t have the time to bring in external people so I prioritised people I know who fit the key demographic that I expect to make up the book’s audience. A few non-key-demographic readers have also volunteered to give feedback, which I happily accepted, bringing my total up to fifteen beta readers.
My biggest disappointment is that I haven’t managed to secure many sensitivity readers, and this could potentially be my downfall.
I set out to publish this book as an experiment within the self-publishing industry, so I just have to continue to see it that way. In that sense, the experiment has proven to be incredibly successful! I’ve learned that, in order to do things on the scale I had hoped, I would have needed about a year between my completed first draft and the publication date. So that’s some hard data for me to take away as the result of this experiment.
My book is long overdue with beta readers
My lovely group of betas have been patiently awaiting a draft for about a month now, maybe more. In a sense, I’m lucky that they’re all people so close to me (even though that does mean they’re likely to be biased) because they’ve all been very forgiving of my poor timekeeping.
They’re a group of people who know what’s going on in my personal life and they know I’m prioritising health and family over a polished final draft. They’re rooting for me, both as a writer and as someone who faces mental health struggles, so they know when I’m pushing my limits. They want me to be healthy first and foremost.
But, let’s face it, they have been waiting for a long time now and I still have a huge chunk of revisions to get through.
Straight to the editor?
I told my editor I would get the book to him in the middle of August, which is fast approaching. He, too, is very flexible and understanding and has put absolutely ZERO pressure on me along the way.
However, it’s important to me that I stick to my publication date, and the only way that’s going to happen is if I get a draft to my professional editor by mid-August as planned.
That means there’s no feasible way I can get the book to beta readers and make edits based on their feedback before sending it to my editor. At this stage, my only hope is to finish my personal revisions by mid-August (I’m aiming for Monday the 14th) and then send it to beta readers and my editor all in one go.
It’s not ideal, but if I can get feedback from beta readers to coincide with notes from my editor, I’ll still have a chance to take it all onboard. I figure, if the timing works out, I can work alongside my editor to decide which feedback makes the cut.
Yes, I’m cutting a LOT of corners, and yes, I’m sure my book will ultimately suffer for it. But I have to stick to my publication date. If I stray from that, then this book will never see the light of day.
It will never be perfect. I have to accept that, embrace it and move on.