Heléne Östberg is a a 42 year-old marketing director and writer in Southern Sweden. At day, she promotes the Swedish region of Skåne as a travel destination, and at night, she writes about the world of Velox in a sci-fi / fantasy series for 10-13 year-olds, which started as a bedtime story.
As many other parents with a vivid imagination, Hélene started telling her kids bedtime stories early on. The stories grew longer and longer, and both Heléne and her kids did, enjoyed it. Eventually, as she had always nurtured a love for writing, she decided to turn her next story into a proper novel.
– I and my son Hugo, who was then 10 years old, created the world of Velox, says Heléne.
The story is set on and in between the two twin planets Joltusien and Mutopia, where two breeds live side by side in a constant battle. A mutop-boy, Julio and a joltus-girl, Irisa, find each other on the forbidden moon and become best friends. Julio who is a first class hacker, finds out about a planned Mutopian attack. The Mutopians have developed a new weapon that will extinguish the Joltusiens. Irisa seeks help from her great grandfather, and finds out that he’s of half-blood and that the myth of half-bloods is true. They do have supernatural powers.
Heléne explains that both she and Hugo love sci-fi, supernatural powers, and fantasy, so the choice of genre was never really a question. And Hugo has been her co-writer during the entire process.
– I kind of tailor-made the story for him.
Hugo and his sister, Iris, were also Heléne’s first beta readers.
Is there anything about BetaReader.io that you’ve found particularly useful when testing the story?
– I really love getting feedback and comments on my text. It’s very inspiring, and has helped me a lot in my work. I constantly check my emails for new updates from my readers.
She also enjoys checking in on her readers’ progress, a feature that she’s been using a lot, to see if they continue to read, or drop off after a few pages. Most of her readers actually did just that, a useful piece of implicit feedback that she used to rework the first few chapters to increase the addictiveness.
– I also think that the reader app is really nice looking. The script instantly looks like a published e-book. And of course it’s very helpful that you can make changes directly in the tool and have a conversation with every reader along the way.
What are your top tips for other authors entering the beta reading phase?
– The hardest part for me was to get readers, says Heléne, and explains that a lot of curious friends and colleagues signed up to read, just to check out what she had been up to all this time, but they weren’t really in her target audience, so dropped out quite quickly. It was a bit depressing when they signed up to read, and then didn’t really come through.
– Another thing is that you don’t have to write the whole book before going into beta. I did that, but next time I will start with the beta reader process earlier. Fail early!
What’s your top tip to readers starting to beta read?
– See yourself as a co-writer, and be really honest. If you think the text is boring, say that! All feedback is so welcomed for a writer in this phase. If you stop reading, let the writer know why. He/she will wonder.
Heléne Östberg is a marketing director and spare time writer in southern Sweden. She is currently testing Velox_Filerna: Hämnden (Swedish sci-fi/fantasy for 10-13 year-olds) on BetaReader.io, so sign up to read if you’re interested!