Saturday, June 13, 2015

The Joy (and Need) of Beta Readers

Scott D. Parker

When you are a independent publisher, it's a good idea to get some good beta readers. BTW, I'm specifically talking about indie publishers because I'm pretty sure traditional publishing has the beta reader stage built in. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

For those that don't know, a beta reader is someone who will read your work and provide feedback. This isn't your editor, this isn't your spouse, and this isn't your mother. And, no, it's not you either. Ideally, this is a friend who will be critically honest with your book and see any potential flaws in the story. A couple of my  readers noted a thread that wasn't completely tied off and I fixed it.

I know of a few indie authors who provide free books to readers who post reviews on Amazon and other sites. Not only do these folks act as a advanced readers who often post reviews day-of publication, they can become a pool of beta readers. I'm not there yet, but it's a long-term goal.

Why are beta readers so important? For one thing, they are not in your head. We creatives can get so wrapped up in our stories and all the plot threads that it can be difficult for us to see the forest for the trees. More than once, as I tried to lay out my carefully choreographed plot, has my wife's eyes glaze over. "It's too much," she'll say. "Yeah, I know, but it'll all be piecemealed out," I reply. "So write it down and I'll let you know if it works."

That's what makes beta readers so key. They'll let you know if it works. sure, your editor can do that, but the editor's job often is more granular. Beta readers are just there for the story. Did this plot work? They are likely not to dwell on your grammar.

I've got a couple of candidates for beta readers since they provided me with some good fixes for my stories. I'm always looking for more.

So, if you think you might want to serve as a beta reader, email me. I can certainly promise free books, in advance of the public, and acknowledgements in the book itself. Plus, you'll get some good entertainment.

Writers out there: how do you find beta readers?

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