Sunday, December 5, 2010

How many writers does it take?

A while ago Michelle made a comment that kind of popped back into my head tonight.

She mentioned that she had too many people read her first book, Monarch, which is about to be published. She didn't explain why. I can only guess that too many people, means too many opinions. But this had me wondering - what is the magic number. Should you have less than five, more than five, but less than ten.

So far I've had five, but the first two don't really count anymore, because it's a completely different book since then, so really I've had three.

Do you think I need more? How many people have read your work? How many people do you think you need to have read your work?

28 comments:

Tabitha Bird said...

I think the right number is at least two who you know can be relied on to tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. So I guess that means you will probably have more than two since those kind of readers are hard to find. I am very lucky with my crit buddy. She tells it like it is, even when I don't agree with er ESPECIALLY if I don;t agree with her.

mshatch said...
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mshatch said...
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mshatch said...

I have two wonderful readers who are helping me make my book sooo much better. They rock!

Elaine AM Smith said...

Great post.
Two readers might be enough but be careful who they are - similar people may not give much depth in the feedback. Good luck.

Anne Gallagher said...

I think two or three is sufficient. And good ones are hard to find.

I have one for grammar and punctuation. One for overall story content and flow. And then if I can find just a 'reader', I'm pretty much all set.

Anne Gallagher said...

Too many cooks spoil the soup.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I'm in the same situation. A number of people read my novel a year ago, but then I won a full ms crit from a blogger we both know. Her brillant comments resulted in massive rewrites, deleted scenes, and new ones. Which meant I needed more people to read it. Two people have read it (one was an earlier beta reader). There was another individual, but I guess she didn't like it, and never got back to me (even after I emailed her).

Laura Pauling said...

I think it depends on who is doing the reading. YOu can have one non writers just read. And then find writers to read. With my current wip, I had a totaly of 3 read the first draft. And then one more read a more finalized draft. I agree, too many voices can mess with your head.

Lynn said...

That's a tough one. Stephen King writes that you need your ideal reader for sure. I'd say just one more and then hopefully you have an editor to look it over. Saying that, I've had 4 people read my last piece and another will be reading the revisions. Maybe intuition can only answer that question!

Colene Murphy said...

Oh, I hope there is a magic number! I would definitely say less than 10 but other than that I have no idea!!

Mim said...

I don't know that you need to have a lot of readers, but that you need to have readers who you trust and that understand the craft of writing. It's one thing to hand your book to a friend who doesn't know the first thing about improving the story and a different one to send it to a critique partner who gets how you can improve your writing.

But I think you need two waves of readers--the first batch looks for major point holes and problems and a second batch that does the same thing after you've totally rewritten. It helps to have fresh eyes look at your story, so you can see what needs to be fixed. If you critique something too many times its difficult to track what's changed and what hasn't and any point plots that could have caused.

Carolyn V. said...

I used to have a ton, but now I only have one help with the major revisions and a handful of betas. I can revise a book to death and it's just too much. So a few is a good idea. =)

LTM said...

I usually end up w/about eight, but they're very *different* readers. I have local betas who are NOT writers. They give me that initial love it/don't love it response. Then I have hubs who is both a voracious reader AND an English major, so he can give me my initial crit. Then I have a few writer-types as in-depth critters... Wow! I didn't realize I was so organized! :D <3

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

I never thought about that! I'll definitely come back here and see what everyone has to say!

Susan R. Mills said...

I have 5 readers (not including my mom, my daughter, and my daughter's friend). I know what Michelle means, though. Sometimes, the opinions were way too varying. They confused rather than helped. I guess that no matter how many readers you have, you must filter the comments and bottom line, use your own judgement and instinct.

Kasie West said...

I don't know, but I generally do five or less. And they are all writers. I think people who don't write have great opinions, but they tend to "not want to hurt your feelings" or only tell you the good things.

lotusgirl said...

I think around 5 is probably a good number if they are writing savvy and honest.

The Happy Whisk said...
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The Happy Whisk said...

Hi Patti: I think, you just gotta trust yourself when it comes to edits, big changes and how many readers are needed.

Plus, trust yourself after a critique is given.

One time I wrote a column for a horror newsletter and in my article was something about roaches.

A best friend of mine, hated the roaches. Wanted them gone. Thought I'd taken it too far. I thanked her, but trusted myself and kept it in.

That month, the newsletter was published with a quote from my article. The same quote my critique partner wanted removed.

Just gotta trust yourself. Do that, and everything else will fall into place.

Tiana Smith said...

I agree that sometimes having too many readers can make things confusing. I think 3-4 is a good number. But I don't know. Let me know if you find something works really well for you :)

Patti Lacy said...

Oh, wow, I don't know. I've ALWAYS been blessed by every reader.

My answer is it's never enough. But then I have so many areas in which to improve.

Great question, Patti.

Melissa Marsh said...

Two for me at this point. More than that and I think you'll start driving yourself crazy with all the input you receive.

Kathi Oram Peterson said...

I read some of each of my novels to my writers group. For a complete read through, I'll ask a couple of trusted authors in my group. After I make the corrections they suggest, off it goes to my editor.

Good luck!!!

Holly Ruggiero said...

Great question! I think is got to be under five. Maybe only one or two, but I don't really know.

Carol Riggs said...

It all depends on the people, the critiquers. I'd like more than one or two, but if those 2 are thorough, it may be enough. I'd prefer more like 4 or 5.

Heidi Willis said...

Just one... the one you know will love it and say great things about it. :)

Just kidding, of course.

I think it depends on how much you utterly trust the readers. I can see how one really good one you trust might be enough.

Still, I have 6 others in my writing group. On any given full book, probably only 3 or 4 will read and give detailed comments. And among those, there are always disagreements. Then it's up to me and my gut to decide who I want to go with.

No matter what you choose, you have to realize NO ONE writes a book that EVERYONE loves. NO ONE. In the end, it's always your book and your choice.

Robyn Campbell said...

I do NOT think you need more. Three is the magic number. I had three on my novel. It really does get too confusing Patti, if you have any more than that. Glam is right. :)