I enlisted multiple beta readers for my manuscript in 2021, but this was the first time I had the chance to be a beta reader for someone else.
Jeff Farrell reached out to an online community I’m a part of asking for feedback from female beta readers. I jumped at the opportunity to gain some experience with beta reading and critique. It was exciting to read something that had never been published before.
As I waited for the manuscript to be sent to me, anxiety kicked in. What if I didn’t like the book at all? What if I didn’t feel it was up to standard? What feedback would I offer?
When I received a copy of Bad Blood, I opened it up at lunch and quickly became so immersed in the story that the thirty minutes flew by without me noticing.
Why should writers do beta reading?
As a writer, you have little opportunity to be part of the book development process outside of your own work. Your characters are great, you developed them well, the dialog is perfect — until a beta reader gives you feedback and shatters that view.
When you read someone else’s work, there’s an emotional separation from the story. Suddenly you start thinking like a writer, and that’s when your editor's voice begins to chime in about the pacing, flow and plot. You are able to point out issues and offer suggestions, reinforcing what you know and learned during your own writing process.
It makes you a better writer. Seeing other work in progress and in a different style than your own gives you an opportunity to reflect about your own style and voice. Reading and making notes refreshes the knowledge you have, thus imprinting it more strongly in your mind. I didn’t realize how much I’d learned during my publishing journey thus far, but being a beta reader helped me see how much knowledge I’d gained, and now I know that Book 2 of Sābanto will be of much better quality right from the start.
It also helps others become better writers. There is power in experience. You are not the first person to write a book, nor will you be the last. Other authors have helped guide you, and now that you’re getting your first book out the door, the roles are reversed and you have an opportunity to help new authors who are still on their journeys. Helping others creates community and improves the quality of self-published books.
Here is a brief review of the book:
Alex, the main character and a narrator, feels like a failure. He’s lost his job as a journalist, and with nowhere to go, he’s remained in the place he knows best, Caracas, Venezuela. With his money running out, there is nothing else to do but to spend his time drinking at a rooftop bar called Mirador. He could go back home to Ireland, but some wounds should never be opened again. When he learns, however, that his brother has died in Caracas, he begins a quest to learn the truth about his death.
From the very first lines of the book, the reader is hooked. You start reading and they start shooting. It leaves you hungry for more. Alex is navigating the corruption of the dictatorship-led country to gather information, but as a gringo (a white man), he is facing a wall of distrust and disinformation. He seeks help from a local, a reporter Gina, who senses there’s more to the story than simply a plastic surgery gone wrong. She takes a risk and jumps at the chance to fight the regime.
Based on actual events and Jeff’s personal experiences during the time he spent in Venezuela as a journalist, the book provides detailed descriptions of Caracas and its people, transporting the reader there with ease. The author also very accurately describes the socio-political scene in a country that is deteriorating due to corruption, authoritarianism, crime and poverty. His clever use of Spanish words in the text is a constant reminder of where the book takes place and the surrounding atmosphere of this South American country.
I’d recommend this book to anyone looking for a quick read with lots of action, and those for whom justice and social equality are worth fighting for.
The book is currently on pre-order and is expected to be available in 2023. Website link: