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  • Writer's pictureJacque Stevens

The Journey Continues: Beta Swaps

I hope everyone is having a great holiday. I’m mostly kicking it by myself because of work obligations, but some family will be popping in and out and I’m enjoying the chance to reflect. This has been a crazy year. If you want to know about my current writing projects, go to my “about” page where I just updated a lot of my blurbs. And this post is to add updates on some of the behind the scenes action. Since writing my first blog post in June, I got a new job and pushed ahead with all things writing. I love my in-person writing group, but I started to think that to move things ahead, I needed more feedback then they were capable of giving me all at once. So I went on a few writing forums and swapped my “djinni book” with a few people. Here is a quick summary of that experience: The Good: I found several wonderful beta-readers. Most were very nice to me, one even asked if I was published already. Three of these girls not only read my djinni book, but were kind enough to read my elf books, too. I’ve noticed a definite pattern with my critique partners. Once I get someone to read through the djinni book, they are much more likely to read the elf books. And every single one of these girls told me later that they enjoyed the elf books more than the djinni book after they were finished, even though they probably wouldn’t have picked them up on their own. It’s a weird phenomenon, but I’ll take it. I also critiqued stories for these betas, even seen multiple drafts of some of them. It’s a thrill to watch these writers improve. Critiquing is a highly rewarding process for both sides, and really starts to show you what makes good writing in a completely objective way. I might even write a whole blog post about that someday…. The Bad: The internet is a dark and scary place. At least one of the books I ended up swapping for is one I would never want to see again or have my name associated with, simply because of content. Also, finding critique partners this way can be hazardous. Everyone is at a different stage in writing and can interpret the dreaded red pen a hundred different ways. I try to help, but one can never really know how that is received miles and miles away…. I also had one person tell me to scrap my whole book. Early in my writing career, a critique like that would have devastated me. Now, it kind of makes me laugh, especially in context of the source and other things written in the critique. I don’t know if all those details should be publicly shared, but feel free to ask me privately if you want all the gory details. Either way, I felt this was a great experience just to see what was out there. I cleaned up my book some more and started to peek into the dreaded world of agents and editors. I entered a few contests and submitted a few query letters… More on that side of things, later. :)

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