Beta Readers, baby, Beta Readers!
Who or what are Beta Readers? They are the people you entrust with the pages of your finished work. They can be from any walk of life, and not necessarily a fellow writer; and, usually are volunteers. Three or four Beta Readers are all you need. At the time you are ready to embark on this stage of the writing process, put feelers out to a trusted community of people. Writers, avid readers, friends of friends, to name a few.
As the author, you are looking to engage Beta Readers who aren’t afraid to tell you what they think. People who will point out where the story doesn’t make sense. Where characters fit or should be downplayed and does it keep their attention.
Beta Readers are not necessarily brought on board to edit your work. The manuscript you present them to review should be past that stage of this journey. If you are editing yourself, let your Beta Readers know. It is O.K. to ask them to point out something you may have missed.
You are now ready to hand off your manuscript.
There are a few suggested steps you should follow when handing off your work to your Beta Readers.
- Inquire on the preferred format they would like to receive the work in.
- Sending manuscripts by e-mail? Create a file with a different name for each Beta Reader.
- Tell them that hard copies are available when requested.
- Prepare instructions to go along with your manuscript. These will help each Beta Reader to know what you are looking for from them. Don’t be vague!
- There is a Due Date. If your chosen Beta Readers are not comfortable getting the work back to you in that timeline, they need to let you know. This allows you to either go with someone else on your list should you choose to, or not.
At the end of the day, the thing you MUST remember, is that you asked for their help. What you read, may not be what you wanted to hear. Feelings of failure and euphoria will be a combination from all that comes back to you. Use the results to make your end project the best it can be.
Above all, do not let the words of a Beta Reader make you give up on your dream.
What are your thoughts on Beta Readers?
Author, Photographer, Lover of Life