When I tackle a novel, I have only one obsession: getting the story down on paper. In this phase, called the first draft, I try to unwind my thread without going back too much on what I have already written in order to stay on course. Because I know that I will rewrite after my text has passed under the eye of my BL. For what ? Because by having my nose in the hole too much, I no longer see possible inconsistencies, nor am I able to make an objective critique of what I have just produced. Are the characters developed enough? Are their reactions credible and perceived as I wish? In short, so many questions that I can't answer since I don't have enough perspective. An outside person, not knowing what's in my head, will give me feedback on what they understand/feel and this will help me a lot in refining my upcoming novel.
For this, I am lucky to be able to rely on a few people with whom the exchanges are enriching and relevant. Among them, Amandine particularly stands out for the quality of her work. Because we're not going to lie, someone who just tells you "I liked it or I hated it" without any development will not move the project forward. This is why it is vital to find someone who suits you because we all have our own way of writing.
ST: Hello Amandine, thank you for taking part in this interview. Let’s get to the heart of the matter: how did you get into volunteer beta-reading?
AR: Reading has always been a passion and last year, following a work accident, it was almost the only activity I could have. In July 2022, I came across an author ad looking for BL and I said to myself “why not?”. It's actually a coincidence.
ST: So how did you know how to do it?
AR: First, I discuss with the author what he expects. And at the same time, I “trained” myself by doing research on the internet. I thus found examples of reading sheets which made me realize that this is work that had to be structured to really help the author. I also relied on someone else's book which explained how to make a good BL. (on this subject, I can recommend Roxane Dambre's guide to becoming the BL of the year , see on Amazon
ST: Indeed, as far as I am concerned, your feedback is extremely detailed with one point per chapter and an overall summary. How long does it take you?
AR: I organize myself to leave 1 to 2 hours per day to read and accept 1 BL/month. No more because it is time-consuming and I don't want to put too much time pressure on myself. Because I note everything that “I see”, both in terms of content and form.
ST: How do you choose your BLs?
AR: By the summary! The story has to attract me, intrigue me or interest me. Even if it means reading and “dissecting” a text, it might as well be something that makes me want to read.
ST: Where do you find your BLs?
AR: In dedicated groups on FB. At least initially. Now, I also have "ongoing" relationships with certain authors, including you :)
ST: Certainly, and I thank you because you respond every time I ask you and that is really precious for me! Even more so when my universe is not necessarily your credo, eh?
AR: Yes - laugh - because I know your writing and I also know how you treat your subjects. For example, for Le Plan Cérebrum, I wouldn't have chosen it as a base given that dystopia isn't my thing. As I knew it was for you, I stepped out of my comfort zone and I'm very happy about it because, ultimately, I really enjoyed doing this BL.
ST: And I’m very happy about it! You know I get stressed every time, lol. What makes you “faithful” in BL?
AR: The relationship that will develop with the author! I must admit that I embarked on this type of experience to communicate with the author but that I was scalded by the communication of some. Or, I should say, the lack of communication of some. Because on several occasions I came back to a novel... and then nothing. Not even a thank you...
ST: I admit that I don't understand this type of behavior! Because that would still be the least of things.
AR: Yes, I think so too, because it takes time and it’s voluntary on my part. Another thing is also to realize whether my feedback is useful or not. Indeed, as I have the Kindle subscription, I will browse the book when it is published and, sometimes, I realized that the author had not taken into account any of my comments, suggestions or corrections . This does not motivate you to do an analysis for the next one.
ST: So, it is true that the author is free to accept or not the suggestions. For my part, I try to take it into account to a greater or lesser degree depending on the remark because I believe that it can only enrich my text. But not necessarily everything either.
AR: Which I can perfectly accept but when out of 10 pages of feedback, nothing is retained, I have the feeling that my work was of no use and I much prefer to devote myself to an author who will be more listening to it. Because, once again, my motivation is to give it a plus, otherwise I would not have trained to improve and structure my BLs. Not only do I review each chapter but also an overall summary.
ST: Despite these disappointing experiences, you're going to continue, aren't you?
AR: Absolutely, I love reading too much for that! To the point that I am seriously considering also training in correction so that I can eventually launch myself as a professional one day. It's not for now but I want to think about reconciling my passion with a career change if it's possible given my health situation.
ST: If that happens, I have no doubt that you will bring a lot to the authors who call on you. As far as I'm concerned, as already said, I won't let you go :)!
Because since we started collaborating together last October, Amandine has been a pillar of my BLs in each of my novels. However, in order not to fall into a circle of "complacency", I look for new BLs each time. About 50% compared to my pillars. In order to always have a “new and different” look. In terms of "profile", I will be careful to have both readers and authors of the genre corresponding to my story because the points of view (and therefore feedback) are often complementary. And then, it allows me to meet great people!
If you want to find BLs, you can contact Amandine via FB https://www.facebook.com/amandine.lacourtablaise
or join these dedicated groups:
If you have other ideas, don't hesitate to share them with me in the comments!