Okay, so you’ve written your manuscript. You’ve typed it letter by letter, word by word, paragraph by paragraph and now it’s finally done. Congratulations! That is an accomplishment and a time to feel proud. The big question is…now what? Well, Creatives it’s time to let someone else read it. It’s time for a Beta Reader.
What is a Beta Reader?
A Beta Reader is someone who reads early drafts of your work and provides you with feedback. Beta Readers are test readers. The feedback they provide is unbiased and they give a reader’s perspective to your story. For example, Beta Readers are preview audiences. They get to see the movie before it’s officially released to the public and provide feedback on the film. Those lucky dogs get a sneak peek of your work before anyone else.
Beta readers are not to be confused with critique partners. Remember Beta Readers give a reader’s perspective and a critique partner gives a writer’s perspective. Beta readers do not have to be writers, but it’s essential that critique partners are. Beta Readers are your taste testers and critique partners are your fellow chefs. The taste testers going to tell you what tastes good and what doesn’t. The fellow chefs are going to tell you what you could add to make it taste better and this is usually a long-term relationship. In exchange for your fellow chef trying your food, they are going to want you to try theirs as well.
Where do you find Beta Readers?
Go outside and yell, “Marco!” and whoever says, “Polo!” is your beta reader. NO TAKE-BACKS! No, I’m totally kidding. Please come and join our Beta Readers Basics class and we’ll give you the bait you need to catch a Beta Reader. On the off chance you do decide to play Marco Polo let me know how it goes.
How is Beta Reading beneficial?
It’s like sharing a meal with someone you cooked for (if you haven’t guessed already I like to eat, stick with me). Yes, you want them to like the food you’ve spent hours making, but you want to know what they liked about the food. Did they like the crunch or sweetness? What do they think could be improved on? What sections need some salt? Knowing this information will help you to know what’s going good and what needs some work.
I know entrusting your work with someone else can send anxiety streaking, I’ve been there. When I had my manuscript beta read for the first time my mind raced with thoughts: Are they going to like it? Should I put the pen down now? How quickly can I leave the country? When I got my feedback from my beta readers it was the most amazing thing I ever experienced. I felt supported. I received honest and helpful feedback and it showed me these people wanted my book to succeed as much as I did. I found my community.
By Imari Berry