Chronicling The Craft: A Conversation About Beta-Reading, From Nailing Your Critiques to Finding Good Candidates

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Chronicling The Craft is a series where I share my experience with working on my YA fantasy novel THE KEEPER’S CURSE, which is now in its third draft. These articles alternate between a) progress updates and fun “TKC-related” content, and b) revising / editing tips. Today it’s the tips-oriented post to celebrate 80% completion of Draft #3.

I had trouble thinking of a subject to cover this time. The past three tips-driven Chronicles (word-cutting strategies, planning changes to one’s writing routine, and wrestling writer’s doubt) were inspired by challenges I experienced at different points during Draft #3. Lately, though, no one single “issue” with editing has stood out to me. Yet I’ve started giving serious thought to the next stage: beta-reading.

Yes, that terrifying yet exciting phase of sharing your writing for feedback is the topic of today’s Chronicle. I’ll share lessons and advice based on my past experience with beta-reading for other writers. I’ll also touch on how to decide who might be a good beta-reading candidate, and give you a peek inside my plans for my WIP’s beta-reading stage. So, let’s dive in!
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Respecting Others’ Privacy and Opinions: What Authors and Bloggers Can Learn from the Kathleen Hale Controversy

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In the past week, the book blogging world has exploded in reaction to YA author Kathleen Hale’s article at The Guardian. In it, Hale describes her decision to confront a book blogger who had given a negative review of Hale’s debut novel No One Else Can Have You and then purportedly harassed Hale online as well as other bloggers who gave positive reviews for Hale’s book. By “confront,” I mean that Hale followed the blogger’s social media accounts, gathered personal information about her, and rented a car so she could drive to what she believed was the blogger’s home address. Turns out in the end that the blogger didn’t live there and (like many book bloggers do) may have been using an online pseudonym to keep her real-life identity private.

Complicated as this story is, readers have been quick to lash out at Hale since last weekend. Reviewers at Goodreads have either posted mostly 1-star reviews for No One Else Can Have You or vowed not to read Hale’s work. #HaleNo has become one of Twitter’s most popular hashtags in the past few days. And regardless of whether you’re a book blogger, a writer, or both, it’s nearly impossible to escape the uproar Hale’s actions have caused – and equally difficult to not have an opinion about it.  Continue reading