I finished my draft…yes, draft…and gave it to my beta readers. Then, I loaded it on my kindle and with a giant sigh of relief I crawled into bed feeling relaxed because I had completed the draft. I opened my manuscript and began reading it, with a smile of contentment. I read three pages, highlighted things that were awkwardly worded…read three more, found two typos…read another four and re-sequenced something…the next day I called my beta readers and requested they delete their copies because I wanted to edit it once BEFORE they got it. I might have issues, but I think I made the right call.
My beta readers were fine with waiting. I did it because I don’t want to waste their honest opinions on something that I feel is still too rough to send out. I’m looking for flaws on something that I think is pretty polished, not obvious flaws that make me cringe when I read it. I think this is a critical lesson. Don’t waste the beta read.
Here’s my most helpful tip for what to do when you complete the first draft:
1. Change the way it looks. You typed it on a computer and your eyes are used to reading it there…just saving it as a .txt file and then putting it on your kindle (or another e-reader) makes it look different and things that you glossed over on the big screen become so obvious that you can’t miss them. Highlight them (if your e-reader has this feature) and then make those changes to your “real” manuscript. Don’t waste a beta read on typos or missing words or bad phrasing.
As the author, you have been so engrossed in your work that you don’t see the obvious. Changing the format helps me on a first read. Let me know if it works for you.