Writers Need You! (To Be a Beta Reader)

I've talked before about how amazing beta readers are, but being a beta reader is pretty exciting, too.  Not only are you providing an essential service to another writer, it'll give you the opportunity to work on your own editing skills.

A skill every writer needs to constantly improve...

As a beta reader, you're a fresh pair of eyes and an alternative perspective on someone else's work. Just remember any suggestions you make for changes may be ignored by the writer.  It's their right to go with their gut instinct, rather than yours.

There's a really fine line as well between constructive criticism and outright rudeness.  Maybe there's a plot element that doesn't quite work, or a character you can't stand, but making helpful suggestions rather than "this sucks, get rid of it", is far more useful to the writer.

And be sure to share some love! Is there a sentence you love? Tell the writer! A character you adore? Share it!

Which brings me to another really key point of beta reading.  Love is great, but no manuscript is perfect.  Even if the thing you're picking up on is a really tiny, mention it.  Sometimes, it's the tiny details are the ones most easily missed.

Golden beta reading/critique partner rules:

1) Be honest
2) Be mindful of the writer's feelings. Honesty's great, but mind how you word it.
3) Be sure you know what the writer's looking for.  Ask them if they want you to find every mistake in the grammar and spelling, issues with the plot, characterisation problems or just a general summary of your response to their MS.
4) Keep the writer up to date: if life's getting in the way of you being able to read, let them know.

How to leave notes will differ based on what program you're using. I use Word, so I use the comment function.


So, are you looking for a beta reader? Alas, I'm not free until September, but you can use social media to ask your followers, or post an advert on your blog. You could also e-mail bloggers you like and see if they're free.  And what about your non-blogging friends? Maybe one of them will provide the kind of honest insight you need.

Comments

  1. I would add that brevity is often a virtue in beta reading. If it's a good thing, of course, no one wants you to cut your gushing compliments short. But if it's a criticism--I just think they're easier to deal with if concise.

    I am always looking for beta readers. I like them to be people I know IRL, so I kind of keep a mental list when I meet people who like YA fantasy and then call them up when I have a manuscript finished. I'm considering trying some internet friends after I finish my current rewrite, though, so...we'll see! Best of luck to you if you're searching for CP's, Miss Cole! :)

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    1. Brevity, yes. Getting to the point is very useful skill for a beta reader to have ^_^

      I'm good right now, but who knows what the future may hold :)

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  2. Since discovering the comment function in Word, beta reading has become more fun and helpful to me. It's not always easy to find beta readers/CPs, but looking for people who read what you write is a start.

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    1. Definitely. It's why making connections through blogging is so helpful :)

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