5 Things To Do After Getting Beta Feedback

Any writer who has gotten to the beta reader feedback stage of their writing journey knows handing your MS to others to read is a helpful part of the process.

It can be essential for addressing plot issues, character flaws, confusing narratives, what works and what doesn’t, and picking up those elusive typos.

It’s also nerve-wracking.

Unless you’ve done the impossible and written the perfect draft, your beta feedback will include things you might not be ready to hear and could involve putting more work into the next draft than you initially thought you’d have to.

These aren’t bad things, even if it feels like it. Instead, embrace the help you’ve been given and do the following…

5 Things To Do After Getting Beta Feedback

1. Really Look At The Comments

While the first thing you’ll do is look at the comments, the second thing to do is really look at them.

On the first read, you’ll just be eager to find out what your betas thought. Once you’ve done that, it’s time to focus on what the comments are telling you about your manuscript.

Most likely, there will be a mix of good comments and not-so-good comments. Each one can help you improve your words, so concentrate on achieving that outcome.

2. Make A List Of Changes

Once you know what the feedback all means, make a list of changes.

It might be a small list, it might be a big list. It might be a list so overwhelming you consider giving up or wonder if rewriting the whole MS will be easier. We’ve all been there, and it’s hard to accept at first. Once you do, however, your MS will be better for it.

Make note of the changes and break them down into small to-do tasks to help you chip away at the mountain of work instead of letting it collapse on top of you.

Once you have a clear list of changes, brainstorm how you’re going to incorporate them into your MS and list those ideas down too.

3. Sit With The Feedback/Changes

Now you know the feedback, what changes you need to make, and how you’ll make them, sit with it for a day or two.

Giving yourself that time stops you from making any rash decisions, like deleting entire chapters or plot lines, and allows your subconscious to work on the issues.

Your initial reaction might have been to make a big change, but some time spent thinking about it may give you a better way to go about it, or a brand new idea that fixes everything in one brilliant swoop.

Even if you’re happy with your feedback and raring to get into all the changes, give yourself that bit of processing time. It will be worth it.

4. Plan Your Next Move

After you’ve let everything sink in, plan the next move!

You might want to write a new outline for the book, noting down what’s going to happen in each chapter, including your new fixes and notes for the new scenes you’ll need to add or what you’ll need to delete.

Or you might just write a bullet point list of the things to do and work through it, ticking off each item as you go.

Whatever process works for you is the one to go with—and to try after the next step.

5. Go Back To Your Beta

If you’re happy with your plan of changes and confident it’ll work, you can skip this step and start the next draft. If, however, you want to run your changes by someone, go back to those who’ve read the story.

A follow-up conversation with your beta/s about the feedback and the changes you want to make just might be what you need to get the story straight in your head, and to see if your fresh changes are something readers will respond to.

Since your beta is that reader, ask them what they think. The changes are still ultimately your decision, but advice from others who know the story but aren’t as close to it can be invaluable.

After that, all that’s left to do is to start editing again and to nail that next draft!

What do you like to do after getting beta feedback? Let us know in the comments!

— K.M. Allan

***After publishing this post, I’ll be taking a week off to have more surgery, so if I don’t respond to your comments right away, I’ll respond when I’m back. Thank you, and see you all again soon!***

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21 thoughts on “5 Things To Do After Getting Beta Feedback

  1. I hope all goes well for you and recovery is quick and easy!

    Wonderful post, Kate. I think you’ve covered everything. Since beta reader feedback invariably improves the story, I like to jump right in and make the corrections. Afterward, I send the new material back to the reader and ask if the new version is better and/or fixed the problem. I have some great betas who enjoy seeing a chapter at a time, which works really well for me. I also edit as I go, so by the time the MS is finished, I’m very nearly done. Beta readers are pure GOLD!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Totally agree, Alexander! I have some great betas too and know I can go to them with ideas or show them changed chapters and get their help. I also love reading their work and helping them out too. I love your process! Sounds like you’ve got a great feedback system.

      Thank you for the surgery well-wishes. I hope it’s a quick recovery too.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: 5 Things To Do After Getting Beta Feedback by K. M. Allan – DEEZ – News about Art, Books & more

  3. Agree wholeheartedly with point 3. Letting the feedback rest before addressing it is just as important as letting the manuscript rest before editing it. Sometimes it feels like a whole rewrite is needed but usually after a few days it is clear that isn’t the case!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So true! I was worried that I needed to rewrite so much with my last edit, but once I sat with the feedback and worked out what needed changing, it wasn’t that much in the end.


  4. I’ve contributed to a few anthologies where we beta read each others stories and have also had comments from editors. I think there was one, maybe two times that I disagreed with a suggestion. Most of the time I thought, “Why didn’t I see that?”

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      1. Indeed it was. The same group has worked together on more than one anthology and most recently I’ve been beta reading for one of the most talented writers of the group, which is something I actually wouldn’t want to commit to for someone I didn’t already know was a good writer.

        Time is valuable and to be honest, there were a few stories the first time around that required a lot of diplomacy. Now we’ve established who among us can take criticism well and a handful of us are more likely to co-operate on future projects rather than doing open calls.

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  5. petespringerauthor

    I am pretty good at looking at others’ comments and looking at my work objectively. As you suggest, I think it’s important to take the time to digest the comments and see if you can see your commenter’s point of view. Most of the time, I can, even if I don’t always agree with them. When more than one person has a similar comment, I am definitely going to take a longer look at those elements. The tricky part comes when two comments are extreme opposites. Above all, I think we still have to be happy with what we write. Developing trust and not taking constructive criticism personally is a must.

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    1. I’ve had feedback come through from different betas that have been opposites and agree that it’s very tricky to deal with. When everyone brings up the same issues, it’s a no-brainer that it needs to be fixed. When you get vastly different views on the same issue then you need all the processing time you can get to work out what way to go.

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