#WWoW! Cherish Your Beta Readers

WoW is a Smart & Savvy Group of Authors who host this weekly feature each Wednesday. While we don't claim to be experts, the goal is to impart what we've learned about writing, editing, getting published, book promotion, and more along the way.

This week, I welcome guest author Margie Church with her thoughts on using Beta Readers. Beta Readers can be pivotal in shaping an author's story and can serve as a fresh perspective when the author is in too deep to see clearly. I second Margie's recommendation for success: FIND A GREAT BETA READER.

I'm not married to my beta readers. I'm married to their advice. Some of us use crit partners or groups. I use beta readers who might participate in an entire book as I write it, or be brought in at pivotal points. Perhaps surprisingly, I change my readers with each book. You see, I select the readers based on some specific experience they have. They might be a lawyer, gay, a cop, a shrink, a horse owner, have a particular kink, or be a Dom. They might be an avid reader in the genre I'm writing. In other words, they have expertise in the story or lifestyle that I don't.

I'm a pretty confident writer, but these readers aren't in my head, so they provide fresh eyes. They have to be able to forget about who I am, and provide honest commentary on the story. If all I'm getting is high-fives, I stop using them. I know I'm not that good. They've steered me clear of landmines that could alienate publishers and readers (unless you're self-pubbed, your first audience is a publisher). When I wasn't sure the book was worth reading, they've helped me evaluate characters and pacing. They point out areas that are weak, and information that's wrong. In between, they let me know when they really like. Sometimes sorting through all this information has been very challenging. Ultimately, it's my book, but I always remember that I asked for their counsel. If I'm not willing to listen, why am I wasting their time?

I've also hired professionals to critique the opening chapters of a work in progress, or review a story premise for marketability. Some might say I'm nuts to pay for services I likely could get for free, but when you're really busy, and know you don't have time to reciprocate, you have to choose. Again, this sort of critique can tighten your manuscript in ways you didn't realize. These editors can uncover a writing issue you must master, or let you know you're on the right track. They're career investment, not business expenses. 

There are many factors that contribute to literary success. Working with talented, smart beta readers is an important component in mine.

TALK TO US: Do you use beta readers? Belong to critique groups? Some authors find this helpful; others find it a waste of time. Share your experience so we learn from each other. 

Krewe Daddy is a book that required and received a lot of input from beta readers. Because of its legal and law enforcement issues, I had numerous experts on the story right through editing. The Daddy aspect in the gay community is also something I wanted guidance on. You'll see my beta readers cited in the acknowledgements. With their help, Krewe Daddy is a compelling sequel to my bestseller, Hard as Teak. I hope you'll enjoy Krewe Daddy. 

Krewe Daddy 
by Margie Church

Luis is the Daddy, a sought-after lover, with an ego to match the mammoth-sized Mardi Gras floats he designs. His lifestyle and reputation are wearing him out, but Luis can't find a satisfying way to break the cycle and be happy, too.

Drew's insecurities pushed him to have a foolish affair six years ago. It destroyed his relationship with Luis, and he's never been able to commit to anyone since. Now, he's taken control of his life and changed his submissive personality by becoming a model for Kevin Marks, and a wildlife enforcement agent in New Orleans.

These men haven't forgotten each other, or settled their differences. When they accidentally meet in a French Quarter gay bar, the years of regret, anger, and pent-up emotions erupt. Their passion is as hot as ever, their mistrust just as potent. When Drew's future is in Luis' hands, will he choose his lifestyle or love?

Featuring Kevin, Teak, and Drew from Hard as Teak.
Get it on Amazon

About the Author
Margie Church writes erotic romance novels with a strong suspense element, in keeping with her moniker: Romance with SASS (Suspense Angst Seductive Sizzle). She has a degree in writing and editing and has been a professional writer, editor, and journalist for over 25 years. She is 2011 GLBT Author of the Year, and her book, Hard as Teak, was named 2011 GLBT Book of the Year at Loves Romances Café. If you enjoy books you can't put down, read one of hers.

Margie lives in Minnesota, is married, and has two children. Some of her passions are music, flower gardening, biking, walking on moonlit nights, nature, and making people laugh. She also writes children's books under the pen name, Margaret Rose.

Keep up with Margie

Read all this week's posts.

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