Another First Draft Finished…but it’s not The End

Yesterday, for the seventh time in five years, I typed an authors favorite two words…

the end

I’m speaking symbolically of course…I’ve never actually typed those words at the end of a novel. I don’t think I’ve ever even seen them in a book, but I did finish the first draft of my latest, as of yet untitled, novel.

The irony is that, now that the first draft is finished, it’s not the end at all…it’s really only the beginning.

There’s still a lot of work to do before it is ready for you. In the next few days I will distribute copies to my beta-readers and wait for their feedback.

Beta readers are the unsung heroes of the book-writing world, and I’m lucky to have some really good ones.

None of them worry about hurting my feelings and each of them has contributed something that has improved my work in the past.

Like any author worth their salt, I am extremely grateful for them, and any input they offer is always taken very seriously. That’s not to say I act on all of it, but I definitely pay attention.

A few of my betas have been with me since the beginning, and a couple of them have only done one book. Along the way there have been some people who thought they wanted to be a beta, but unfortunately they didn’t understand the job description, so I had to keep looking until I found suitable replacements.

Didn’t understand the job description? How is that possible? Read the book and tell the author what you think…right?

It doesn’t sound like a complicated task, and in fact it isn’t…once the ground rules are clearly defined and understood.

When an author asks for beta readers, they aren’t asking for somebody to read a draft and tell them it’s the best thing they’ve ever read. We aren’t delusional; we all know what Hemingway said…

first draft

No, what we are asking for is someone to read a first draft and punch holes in it.

Big holes.

We don’t want to hear about missing commas or spelling mistakes…that’s part of the editing process.

A beta reader’s primary responsibility is to tell the author what they didn’t like about the book.

  • Things that didn’t make sense in the story.
  • Characters that weren’t believable
  • Dialogue that didn’t ring true
  • Anything that made them stop and say well that just ain’t right

The author is asking you to rip the story to shreds. Even if it’s just as simple as saying The story just didn’t grab me.

So, for the next two or three weeks my book will be in the hands of  people who are tasked with picking it apart, so I can put it back together before I send it to the editor…who will then proceed to pick it apart some more.

All of this is done in hopes that you, the reader, won’t know how bad the first draft really was.

 not the end


As always – thank you for reading


Filed under Uncategorized

20 responses to “Another First Draft Finished…but it’s not The End

  1. Your mission, should you accept it … In her book “Bird by Bird”, Anne Lamott calls them “shitty first drafts”. “Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft.”

  2. Reblogged this on Armand Rosamilia and commented:
    Tim Baker’s done with a new book?… um, not quite…

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  4. Therin Knite

    The first draft is truly only Step 1. It’s an achievement, no doubt, but it’s not anywhere near the finish line. Great post.

  5. I totally agree with the Hemingway quote. I love using his quotes in my literary blog as well; I really feel like he is the best teacher when it comes to the writing process. Good luck with the second draft!

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  7. Beta readers are indeed golden. Fabulous post. I’ve reblogged it with an intro on

  8. Couldn’t be more timely, Tim Baker. Will take your words to heart as I hand over my baby to my beta readers later this week.

  9. Carol Fisher

    I learned a lot from this! Had heard the term “beta readers”, but never knew what it meant! Thanks for the education Tim, and good luck!

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  11. Reblogged this on The Transparent Author and commented:
    I am in the (second round) of beta reading for my book Open Souls. Thinking about all that beta reading entails, I find myself reffering to this blog post from friend of mine Tim Baker. If you’re an author, or asked to beta read for someone, I highly recommend reading this.

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