As you may have read on the Holly Bell Facebook page, the manuscript for, Book 8, the new sequel in the Amanda Cadabra series has now gone to our glorious professional editor Kim Brockway. So what next for you, precious readers? Well, it all depends.
If you are in the VIP beta readers group, and I’ll tell you how you can become a member in a moment, then you will be receiving a personal email from me regarding the book. If you are an equally esteemed non-member, then this is what you can expect over the coming weeks.
First, there will be the Title Reveal (momentous orchestral music). Then there will follow a partial cover reveal. Hot on its heels comes the full cover reveal. But that’s not all. The trailer video will be placed here for your delectation, the first chapter, and there may even be (can’t promise) a YouTube with pretty pictures and me reading the aforementioned chapter. There will also be the release date and then … the Launch Day post and video. The paperback may come out at the same time as the ebook or a bit later. I’ll let you know, when I know.
‘So what’s this VIP group all about then?’ I hear you ask. Well, it is a group of readers who beta-read the manuscript once it’s gone off to the editor. Just to be clear, it is not an Advance Readers Copy. No, because it isn’t ready for publication. The VIPs help with the polishing stage. They are, in a sense, volunteer sub-editors who read the book in order to give me feedback. That’s the important bit: giving feedback.
Quantity and Quality
How much feedback do you have to give? It can be one line, a sentence like (and this is my personal favourite) ‘Loved it!’ (‘Brilliant’ and equivalents are also joyfully welcomed, but be honest, please), or it can be a paragraph of comments. Many of the VIPs contribute a list of typos, spelling and grammar issues that have cunningly slipped under the radar of my five editing passes; some do all of the above (much love here for you-know-who-you-are).
If you are considering a VIP role, there is one other factor to consider. I will need the feedback as soon as possible. It will be about 10-14 days, most likely, before I need to put in the final amendments, but I’ll let you know nearer the time. And there’s that word again: ‘time’, as in ‘sensitive’.
The manuscript will be delivered to you in various formats: .mobi, .epub, Word document, and .PDF. You can give the feedback in the body of an email, as a text or Word doc, as a screenshot, a photo, or … or …. well, please feel free to suggest it, if you need to send it by some other means.
If you’re keen to enter the VIP Lounge (not that much lounging involved, alas), then you can either sign up here or drop me a line. You know how much I love that. Better still, both would be splendid.
My To-Do List
First, before I can ship to the VIPs, I need to create the front and back matter. What’s that? Those are the extra pages before and after the story. For example, the copyright notice (easy bit: I don’t even have to change the date, as the last book came out this spring), the maps and plans, dedication and the table of contents. That lot goes at the front, and at the back, I get the chance to say my thankyous to everyone who has contributed, as well as to you, dear readers. There are also the Questions for Bookclubs and the British English to American English glossary. Among other things. All of this, as you can imagine, takes a few days, so you have time to decide, in case you would like to join the VIPs.
That’s all for now. As you can see, I have my fun cut out for me, but I wanted to give you the latest news first, so that you’re in the loop. Above all, I am confident that you will have a brand new cozy mystery to cuddle up with in the cooler autumn (or spring, depending) months. Back soon.
PS If you want to start the series now:
Available on Amazon
and Large Print
Could you? Ever thought about it? Someone ever told you that you could do this professionally?
What? Make the transition from reader to beta reader to reviewer/blogger to pro beta reader to editor. That’s quite a journey, you’re thinking? You’re a reader, so you’ve made a start. But would it be possible to turn your favourite hobby into something that actually generates income? Well, here is someone who’s done it.
It is my privilege to interview my treasured editor, who has been with the Amanda Cadabra books from the very beginning, Flora Gatehouse, pro beta reader and literary enthusiast:
Flora, I think, people who don’t write at all would like to know how you became a book reviewer.
I have always loved books; I remember as a child reading anything I could get my hands on and that love of reading has stayed with me all the way into adulthood. I’m not quite sure how I became a bona fide book reviewer though. I have always waxed lyrical about my favourite reads to my family and friends, hoping to encourage them to read one book or another. I love it when someone reads and enjoys a book that I suggested; it’s quite a thrill. I eventually decided to use my blog, to put pen to paper, as it were, and put my thoughts and suggestions out there. I have been writing book reviews in increasing frequency over the last four years and have even written a post about it – How Do I Start? – that gives some basic pointers and highlights the questions that I ask myself when I write reviews.
How do you know what books to read?
It may sound obvious but I read the books that I think I’ll enjoy. I’m persuaded by the front cover, the blurb on the back and the general opinions about the story that I find on Amazon and Goodreads.com. Of course, if I’ve read other books by that same author and enjoyed them, I’m already halfway sold on it. Reading is my hobby and my passion, so I want to reduce the odds of the book I pick up, not being to my taste by avoiding genres, themes and authors I’ve read in the past that weren’t my cup of tea.
How do you decide what is good?
Lol! That’s a loaded question, Holly. Deciding what is “good” is a wholly subjective thing. Many of my fellow book bloggers have recently decided to stop “rating” books as everyone’s idea of what is good (or not) is different. For me, I’m looking at the way the story is told as well as the story itself, for example, I don’t like it when the flow is stunted by too many things that a good editor would pick up (spelling, grammar, punctuation, plot holes, inconsistencies, etc), I hate it when a book ends on a perilous cliff-hanger and I always want to be emotionally connected to the protagonists; I wrote a post about some of my expectations regarding the leading female character too (OK, it might have been a bit of a rant, actually so, sorry in advance). If a book can make me laugh, cry and hold my breath, then I’m going to enjoy it more and rate it higher; I want to be swept away and drawn into the adventure.
How do you separate whether it’s your sort of book or not from its worth as a literary work?
That’s a tough one. The definition of literary work is a written piece of art but what is art? I don’t think it’s my job to decide whether a book is a literary work or not. My job as a book reviewer is all about giving other readers my opinion about the story, to help them decided whether a particular book is their sort of thing. As a beta reader, my job of reviewing a book has a slightly different directive; as well as my opinion about whether I liked the story as a whole, I’m also giving the author a detailed critique about every aspect of their unpublished manuscript.
How do you become a professional beta reader? What is that? What criteria do you use?
A beta reader is someone who reads an unreleased work of literature or other writing, who gives feedback from the point of view of an average reader to the author (similar to beta testing in software). The feedback is used by the writer to fix remaining issues with plot, pacing and consistency. Many authors send their manuscript off for beta reading so that they can gain some unbiased insight; ensuring that their book is well suited for readers, is conveying the right message and is enjoyable to read, before they move on to final editing or publishing.
I almost fell into beta reading by accident, although looking back it does feel like a natural transition. As I mentioned before, over the last 5 years I have been reviewing books that I’ve bought or been given by family and friends, but I have also been given ARCs (Advance Reader Copy) from publishers and authors in exchange for my reviews. The combination of my passion for reading, attention to detail and my skill set developed as a teaching assistant, has lead to my hobby developing into a service that I offer authors.
I charge a fee for my beta reading service but what do I do to earn it? Well, as I have already mentioned, as a beta reader I complete a detailed feedback report answering thirty questions about an author’s manuscript. I have arranged these questions into seven specific areas; opening scene, characters & dialogue, plot & conflict, flow & pacing, setting & world building, writing style and overall impression. Answering these in-depth questions, gives an author a comprehensive analysis of their story but if they’d also like to know which scenes made me cry, chuckle or shiver in fear, I offer also offer in-line comments as an additional service. In-line comments are when I write my immediate thoughts, feelings and comments directly into their manuscript using MS Word Comment.
What are your top 2 favourite books?
Lol! Holly, I can’t answer that! It’s like asking me who in my family I love the most! 😉 What I will tell you is what my favourite genres are. In my long history of reading, I’ve read everything from the classics to horror to historical romances to science fiction and loved them. Since getting my first Kindle in 2013, my reading passion has been firmly rooted in the paranormal romance, urban fantasy and cosy paranormal mystery genres. As a cosy paranormal mystery writer yourself, Holly, you are one of my favourite authors; Angie Fox, Victoria DeLuis and Kristen Painter being on that exclusive list too. Please keep writing.
Thank you for wanting to interview me, Holly, for your blog, it’s not often that I sit this side of the table. 😉 I hope that your readers enjoyed it as much as I did. The book blogging community is a wonderful place, full of supportive, kind-hearted souls who love talking about books. If any of your readers were thinking about reviewing the books they read or starting their own book blog, I can’t recommend it enough. I’ve made some amazing friend, met some awesome authors and I’ve loved every minute of it; I can’t imagine my life without it.
Bye for now and happy reading.
Thank you, Flora, that was inspiring. And what a lovely compliment! We can follow Flora on https://florasmusings.com/ and, if you’re a writer find out more here https://brockwaygatehouse.co.uk/
A writer? Yes why not. I’ll tell you how I got from editor to writer. But that’s a story for another day! Perhaps next time, when I’ll be back with news of a new video and plans for a special Christmas event or two.