The Beta Reader
Welcome to another Wednesday Writer Wisdom. I feel great everyone! I just finished my novel now what? Time to find myself some Beta Readers, that’s what.
So what is a Beta reader and why do I need one you might ask? Well its simple, a beta reader gives you feedback on your finished manuscript. They are the ones that find the bugs in your work before the final “release” version goes out. They can improve its readability, its usefulness and even its saleability, probably not a word but it sounds good.
Seriously guys the Beta readers are your best friends. You have spent so much time with your novel, hoping you got all those pesky errors down. You are probably biting at the bit to get it to the world so that everyone can see how great you are as a writer, but hold on. You spend so much time on our own manuscripts that you might not be seeing it objectively that’s where the Beta reader comes in.
I came across this article by Belinda Pollard the other day which she talked about the need for Beta Readers In her post she states what a beta reader is and why every author no matter if they are going the self-publishing route or the traditional way, we all need good Beta Readers.
In her second post on Beta Readers she talked about how to find that perfect reader for your manuscript. She pointed out some clear and precise aspects of the Beta Reader. All of which I agreed, and urge you to take a look at what she said. If you don’t have the time I’ve narrowed them down to what I thought were important for me and perhaps you might find them help as well.
Personal characteristics of the Beta: You want to look for someone that is in your target demographics. That means someone that reads the kind of stories that you have written. That makes common sense since they will respond to your book similar to the way of your intended readers. Okay, you can’t find these gems. Then try the next best thing. Look for readers with that publishing understanding, these are the type of readers that can put themselves in your target reader’s shoes. If you find one of these Beta’s you have found pure gold. You want someone that’s opinionated, but know how to justify their opinion without killing your dream. With that said, you do not want to get anyone close to you, like a life partner or your Mom. They will only tell you want you want to hear.
Reading and writing of the Beta Way: Keep an ear out, Beta’s are regular readers. Remember those friends or co-workers who often mention a book they’ve read. Ideally, Beta’s read broadly, not restricting themselves to just one type of book. They are also writers who are motivated to help you with your book, because they know how much they appreciate help with their own work. They comprehend the value of a good beta read.
Publishing smarts of a Beta: They understand what makes a good book, plot development and characterization, structure and purpose they even understand what creates suspense etc. They comprehend the difference in a writer’s “voice” from what’s “technically correct” They recognize that a few typos in the beta read doesn’t make a bad book. (Those any good copy editor or proofreader can fix)
Ideally you would want at least 2-4 Beta Readers for your manuscript. Perhaps you know more than 4 people that you can ask, but keep in mind; you are looking for the above characteristics to help guide you in choosing the right Beta for your baby. These characteristics aren’t set in stone however. You are the author and thus the best judge of what kind of input your book needs to take it to the next level whatever that might be.
You can find out more about Belinda Pollard on her site Smallbluedog.com