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’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!***