Beta Readers – The Ultimate Guide for Writers
- What is a beta reader?
A person who reads a work for context, plot, and continuity. Not to be confused with an EDITOR who looks for mechanical errors as well as context, plot, and continuity. Is usually not paid. Can be done for any piece of writing, including, but not limited to: blog posts, short stories, poems, novels, etc.
- Where to find them?
Google+, Twitter, pretty much any social media site you can think of. Local libraries may have info. Friends (the honest, brutal kind, preferably), family (also honest and brutal), local college campuses (plenty of brutality there). Take the time to ASK people! There’s no time to be shy when you might be published.
- Are there bad ones?
- Are there great ones?
- How to tell the difference?
Good give you concrete reasons why they didn’t like it.
Good are honest.
Good mark up your work.
Good give you more than just: I hate/love it.
Good give you reasons why they like it.
Good read what you give them.
Bad will promise to read it, then never will.
Bad will give you butt pats and sugar coat everything.
Bad will analyze you as a person, rather than the work.
Bad will make changes, but won’t explain why.
Bad will tell you its garbage and that you’re an idiot.
Bad will comment on your work without reading the whole thing.
Bad will usually start with, “No offense, but…”
- How to be a good AUTHOR to beta readers?
Know that you don’t have to use all their suggestions, but you should still listen to them
Thank them even if they say they hate it. They took the time to read it.
Never send them a rewrite unless you asked them beforehand. Don’t take advantage of their kindness.
Don’t argue with them. They have an opinion. You asked for it. Take it, regardless if you use it or not.
BE. HUMBLE. Stephen King started as garbage, you started as garbage, EVERYONE started as garbage. Your shit don’t smell like roses.
EDIT before you send them work. Editors and beta readers are two separate things, though one person can be both. Don’t assume a beta reader is also an editor.
- When do you seek a beta reader?
When you’ve edited the piece to the point of near-publication readiness MECHANICALLY. Edit out typos and ensure grammar is near-perfection before seeking beta readers.
- What’s the purpose of a beta reader?
To be your pre-audience, audience. These are the people you let read your work before all of society has access to it. See what they say, take it to heart, and then decide what you need to do before publication or sending it off to a judge/final editor.
Once again, and I can’t stress this enough, beta readers are here to help you. You actively seek them out yourself and ask them to read it. They didn’t force you to let them read it. They aren’t forcing their opinions on you. It’s your work. You can do what you want, despite what they say, and that’s okay. But remember they are only trying to help (most of the time). Just thank them for their time and effort and move on. What do you think? Anything you agree or disagree with? Let me know, and comment below!
Thanks for reading.
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