Guest Posts, Writing & Publishing Articles, Writing Craft & Tips

Guest Post: Six Things to Know About Writing a Book by Annette Abernathy

This week, I’m excited to bring you a series of three posts by professional beta readers Annette Abernathy and Allison Conley of They’ll be offering writing tips, providing advice on how to sell your finished book, and sharing their must-know items for new authors. Annette is up first!

beta witches guest post

I’m a writer and a beta reader, so I understand both sides of the process. I’ve run my blog and have been writing novels and screenplays for years, but it was the editing process that really showed me the art of writing and storytelling.

I’d used critique partners, but they hadn’t stopped the 200 rejections. Eventually, I buckled down and hired an editor. With each edit I rewrote my book. That was a grueling process, but my editor opened my eyes to the possibilities of my characters. With each draft I learned more about myself and the world I’d built.

Once the edits were finished I began sending the book out to beta readers. As a beta reader I find that many don’t understand the difference between editors and beta readers. An editor helps compose the story and fixes grammar. A beta reader gives an opinion on the overall feel of the story, and the two shouldn’t be used interchangeably.

Indies authors may think that they can get around spending money on editing by using free betas, but it’s better that an author use a real editor to get them past that first awful draft. That first draft is always awful and any professional will attest to this. No matter how good an author is at storytelling they should not try to edit their own book.

The truth is that all this is generic information that any article on beta reading will tell you. The truth is that you, the author, will find many people who will be sweet about your story. My book began to thrive when I faced the harsh truth that the first draft was truly terrible. Here’s a few tips I’ve learned.

  1. Know the purpose of your book before you write it.
  2. Understand that rewriting, editing, and beta reading is part of the process.
  3. Know your characters and realize that the reader only knows what you tell them.
  4. Be aware that you are probably one of thousands who is writing a novel in your same genre.
  5. Look for all the clichés of your genre and avoid them in your book.
  6. Know when to take the advice of an editor or beta reader.

I’ve hurt many feelings with the first piece of advice. Sometimes people think if they love a type of story enough that they’ll write the next bestseller. It can happen, but will it happen to you? Really consider what your purpose is and who is your audience? I write love stories but not romance, so my books don’t fit with all romance readers. Due to the nature of my books I’ve had men enjoy them. I knew that I wanted to write books that deal with abuse, mental illness, racism, and socio-economic issues, so I’m more aware of each niche group of readers who are potential fans.

  1. I’m also more aware of when a book goes off topic. Most of the time the outline changes by the chapter, but knowing the end goal keeps me in line. Even if an author is the most methodical at staying with the outline they still need that clear objective.
  2. I’m dyslexic, so writing has never been easy for me, and it’s going on two years since I began the edits for my first book. I cried and vowed to give up every day, but by the second book I was a pro! I knew what I was doing, so it was mentally easier. Still I won’t publish any book until all the feedback is opinion on style rather than suggestions for making the book smoother.
  3. I knew my characters so well that each one had a back story, quirks, and favorite foods. The problem was that I didn’t know how to write them. Learning how to introduce the characters and endear them to the reader helped me learn more about myself. The process became a spiritual journey.
  4. My editor and beta readers made me aware of number four without actually saying it. They kept saying that my stories weren’t like other stories out there. This felt bad at first since romance readers expect a layout that I was not going to give them. Then I realized just how many books in each genre are similar, and those are the ones that make it to the finish line. Imagine how many will be published. As the author you are competing with published books and books that will be published. Look for ways to make your story standout so much it could become a classic or genre changer.
  5. Don’t try to recreate a popular book! Think up a new angle and become the next big name. Don’t be content to be in the shadows.
  6. For me number six is the hardest. I tend to write about topics that many aren’t familiar with, so a lot of times I’ve had to ignore the beta readers. My editor helps me tell an unusual and provocative story, and I tend to take all their advice. Sometimes the beta readers tend to want to be experts when they aren’t.

When I read for other people I always assume that the writer is the authority, unless it’s obvious they aren’t. Whether the beta is helpful or not with the story they will always let you know what type of critiques you’ll get once the story is published. So it’s helpful to have beta readers outside of your genre read your book to help you grow your craft. It feels better when men like my stories because I do write love stories.

I’ve been writing for years and I do a lot of research on the craft of writing, so I hope that some of these tips will help out other writers. We’re essentially a family.

About Annette

Annette Abernathy has a B.A. in psychology with a minor in Women’s Studies, and a professional certificate in photography with a background in visual storytelling.

Genres Annette Beta Reads: Romance, Historical Romance, Regency Romance, Psychological Romance, Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Young Adult Fiction, Suspense, Erotica, Contemporary Fiction, Christian Fiction, Horror, New Adult, Mysteries/Thrillers, Literary Fiction

Fiction Blog, Writing Updates

Month-End Update: August 2016

August went so quickly that I almost feel like it didn’t happen. As in July, I enjoyed a much-needed break from author work toward the end of the month while I visited my family and friends in Kansas. However, my mini-vacation also left me a little behind heading into September. The next two weeks will be especially busy, as I prepare for the publication of The Courtesan’s Avenger, but I’m ready to tackle my monster to-do list. Stay tuned for more updates – there are a lot coming very soon!


  • Blog Posts Written  9
  • Fiction Words Written  0
  • # of Days I Wrote Fiction  0
  • Nonfiction Prompts Written 105 prompts (plus two rounds of front/back matter material)
  • # of Days I Wrote Nonfiction  9
  • Outlines Written –  1 (100 Mystery, Thriller, and Suspense Writing Prompts)
  • Days Without Writing and/or Editing 16 (thank you, Kansas!)


  • Drafts Revised  Final line edits and first proofread of The Courtesan’s Avenger (Desertera #2)
  • # of Days I Revised  7


*Remember, I review every book I read on my Goodreads page.

Author Business Activities

Goals for September

  • Final proofread of The Courtesan’s Avenger
  • Finish cover design process (now that my designer is back from vacation)
  • Publish The Courtesan’s Avenger
  • Write and publishing 100 Mystery, Thriller, and Suspense Writing Prompts (Fiction Ideas Vol. 9)

What did you accomplish in August? What goals are you working towards in September? Share below!

Fiction Blog, Writing Updates

Month-End Update: July 2016

Wow. As I recap July, I feel like these mere 31 days were two months instead of one. For the first 20 days, Daniel was in Australia visiting his family. I eased my loneliness by working my ass off, putting in extra hours to write, revise, and do all the little things that come with being an authorpreneur. And then I got on a plane to Australia to join Daniel…

…and promptly did zero author work for the final 11 days of the month. A much-needed rest that has left me feeling a bit disoriented as I head into August (aka the final march toward the publication of Desertera #2!). Here are my notes on what I accomplished in July and my goals for the coming month:


  • Blog Posts Written 7 (and two reblogs)
  • Fiction Words Written  0
  • # of Days I Wrote Fiction  0
  • Nonfiction Prompts Written 100 prompts (plus front/back matter material)
  • # of Days I Wrote Nonfiction 8
  • Outlines Written –  1 (100 Science Fiction Writing Prompts)
  • Days Without Writing and/or Editing 13 (thank you, Australia!)


  • Drafts Revised Line Edit of Desertera #2
  • # of Days I Revised  10


*Remember, I review every book I read on my Goodreads page.

Author Business Activities

Goals for August

This month is all about getting Desertera #2 ready for publication in September!

  • Finish line editing and proofreading
  • Finish cover design process
  • Format for ebook and paperback
  • Set up preorder on online retailers

I also plan to write and publish 100 Science Fiction Writing Prompts (Fiction Ideas Vol. 8).

What did you accomplish in July? If you participated in Camp NaNoWriMo, did you meet your goal? What are your plans for August? Share below!

Fiction Blog, Writing Updates

SPECIAL Month-End Update: June 2016

To mark the halfway point of 2016, I’ve got a special month-end update today. In the first part, I’ll do the usual June recap. Some highlights? Desertera #2 is finally with the line editor, and 100 Action & Adventure Writing Prompts (Fiction Ideas Vol. 6) is published AND FREE through tomorrow.

In the second part, I’ll be catching you (and myself!) up with my New Year’s Resolutions. My biggest accomplishment? *knock on wood* I’ve only had ONE major migraine attack this year! I never thought I’d hit that goal, and I’m incredibly thankful they’ve mostly subsided.

Before you dive into all the bullet points, I want to highlight three exciting July activities.

Brain to Books Generic Posts (1)First, today is Indie Pride Day! Check out this Book Blast hosted by Angela B. Chrysler to find some awesome independent authors and books (myself, included!).

Second, tomorrow I’ll be hosting the Fire & Lies Goodreads takeover. Head over at 3 P.M. Eastern U.S. time to chat science fiction and fantasy and enter to win a FREE ebook copy of The Cogsmith’s Daughter (Desertera #1) – OR Desertera #2, if you’ve already read TCD.

Last, this month I’ll be unveiling the title of Desertera #2. Since I’ve put it off so long, I’ve decided to make an even bigger deal out of it and run a contest! Stay tuned for details (and chances to win advance review or signed copies of Desertera #2)!

June Update


  • Blog Posts Written — 7 (and one reblog)
  • Fiction Words Written — 0
  • # of Days I Wrote Fiction — 0
  • Nonfiction Prompts Written — 100 prompts (plus front/back matter material)
  • # of Days I Wrote Nonfiction — 7
  • Outlines Written — 0
  • Days Without Writing and/or Editing — 13


  • Drafts Revised — Content Edit of Desertera #2 (plus a quick second pass)
  • # of Days I Revised — 10


*Remember, I review every book I read on my Goodreads page.

Author Business Activities

Goals for July

I’ve got a few exciting things planned for July — I’d stay close if I were you!

  • Announce Desertera #2‘s title with a contest!
  • Complete all line editing for Desertera #2 (pending editor’s schedule)
  • Cover design for Desertera #2
  • Write and publish my next creative writing prompts booklet
  • An author interview on Kate Evans’s website
  • Participate in Camp NaNoWriMo
  • Participate in the Indie Pride Day Book Blast (today!)
  • Participate in the Fire & Lies Goodreads takeover (tomorrow!)

New Year’s Resolutions

So far, I’m on track to hit my goal of 50% of my resolutions. As a quick refresher — our family tradition is to make one resolution for each year of your age. Therefore, I try to shoot for the stars and at least hit the moon!

My difficult code: E (easy), C (challenging), DD (damn difficult), LOL (…yeah…)


1. Write five days a week (C, but based on past experience, LOL) – If by “write,” I mean draft OR edit, then I think I’m on track.

2. Finish Desertera #2 (E)

3. Publish Desertera #2 (C) – On track!

4. Write Desertera #3 (DD) – On track!

5. Publish Desertera #3 (DD) – Not happening

6. Write a book for fun (LOL) – I repeat: LOL.

7. Write all nonfiction booklets (E) – On track!

8. Publish all nonfiction booklets (E) – On track!

9. Publish nonfiction compilation (C) – On track!


10. Publish two blog posts per week (C) – On track!

11. Read 50 books (C) – Way ahead!!!

12. Make $1,000 from my author business (C, maybe DD) – Still possible with the upcoming book launch

13. Adhere to my marketing plan (C) – More or less, need to re-evaluate

14. Send two email newsletters per month (C) – Doing it!

15. Update my author website/platform (revise each quarter) (E) – Check!


16. Keep Daniel and myself student loan free (DD) – WOOT!

17. Keep migraines to one per month (or less!) (DD) – DOUBLE WOOT!

18. Exercise for 30 minutes, 3 days a week (LOL) – Hahahaha.

19. Record my three daily gratitudes (C) – Yup!

20. Visit a new state (E) Rhode Island & Massachusetts

21. Go to the 9/11 Memorial in NYC (E) – Hopefully this fall

22. Visit home (summer) (C) – Tickets booked!

23. Visit home (Christmas) (E) – Tickets booked!

Who else has accomplishments to share from June? How are your New Year’s Resolutions coming along? What are your plans for the rest of 2016?

Fiction Blog, Writing Updates

Month-End Update: May 2016

Happy June, everyone! I hope you all had a productive and fun May (if so, feel free to share your achievements in the comments!). Professionally, I didn’t get as far in my revisions of Desertera #2 as I would have liked, but Daniel and I did have a few unexpected (but welcome) social engagements pop up throughout the month, so personally, it was a great few weeks.

As I head into June, I am going to keep my focus on a few big goals. First, I’ll be finishing the content edit revisions of Desertera #2, so that it can go to line editing at the end of the month. As always, I’ll be working on my next nonfiction booklet, 100 Action & Adventure Writing Prompts, and if time allows, I am more than ready to dive into Desertera #3.

Last, I wanted to let you all know that I have officially joined Tumblr. You can find me at If you’re also on Tumblr, feel free to follow me, and I’ll happily return the favor!

But first, let’s recap May:


  • Blog Posts Written — 8
  • Fiction Words Written — 0
  • # of Days I Wrote Fiction — 0
  • Nonfiction Prompts Written — 100 prompts (plus front/back matter material)
  • # of Days I Wrote Non-Fiction — 10
  • Outlines Written — 1 (100 Action & Adventure Writing Prompts)
  • Days Without Writing and/or Editing — 12


  • Drafts Revised — Content Edit of Desertera #2 (over 2/3 through the manuscript)
  • # of Days I Revised — 9


*Remember, I review every book I read on my Goodreads page.

Author Business Activities

Goals for June

  • Finish the content edit revisions of Desertera #2
  • Write and publish 100 Action & Adventure Writing Prompts
  • Begin drafting Desertera #3

Who else has accomplishments to share from May? What are your goals for June? Share in the comments!