When you intend to self-publish, that doesn’t mean you can work in a vacuum. While you may not have the resources of a Big Six publisher at your disposal, you still need the support of a team to bring your work to fruition. When it comes to editing, you can hire professional editing services or a freelance editor, but just as important are your “Beta readers.”
In software development, Beta testers are people who volunteer to try developers’ software for free with the full understanding that it may be buggy. The Beta testers find the flaws, and the developers move that much closer to a final release.
It works similarly with books. For Midlife Mouse, I put together a team of Beta readers that covered a wide spectrum of the book’s potential audience and those with expertise in the field: published authors, writers with a background in publishing, agents, ministers, screenwriters and even my now eleven-year-old daughter. The one thing they all have in common is a love for story and the written word.
Based on their feedback, I’ve made small changes to the book here and there. I’ve even made some changes based on the things they didn’t say but I wished they had.
Even with all that feedback, there was one crucial group missing: avid Disney fans. To fill that gap, I reached out to an old friend from high school, who posts about the Mouse on a daily basis. She and her 20-year-old daughter both read the book and recently finished it. Knowing how demanding the Disney fan base can be, I anxiously awaited their feedback.
It was glowing.
Here’s a little of what they had to say:
“Just wanted to let you know I finished reading your book and I really LOVED it! It’s mysterious, funny … and I even teared up a little toward the end! Thank you so much for letting me read it. My daughter and I have had so much fun reading and discussing it with each other! She is only a few chapters behind me and will probably finish reading it today … in fact, she almost read the whole thing in one day. She said she had a hard time putting it down!” -Kimberly T.
And as Kimberly’s daughter was finishing the book, she got this series of text messages (I’ve edited out any bits with spoilers):
“I hate to text you at work, but I just gotta tell you: I JUST FINISHED THE BOOK. IT WAS SO AWESOME! OMG! OMG! OMG! IT WAS FANTASTIC!”
“I must’ve said ‘holy crap’ about fifteen times while reading the last two chapters. LOL.”
“OMG! I’m excited for it to come out! You’ll have to send Wayne a message and tell him how much we loved it!”
Huge thanks to Kimberly, Taylor and all my other Beta readers for honoring me with your time and opinions. I can’t wait to honor you by sharing the book with the world.