In lieu of our newest feature that we’re trying to market to you, I thought it would be fitting to talk about the benefits and loopholes one must look for when searching out beta readers. As a writer and a rather social individual, I’ve many friends who’ve finished novels and thus used beta readers in that process. If you’re going the traditional route of editing your novel, you’ve probably gone through a critique group of some form and edited to the fullest extent and now you believe you are ready to show other individuals your work in its entirety. It seems so simple right? Just print up the manuscript (hopefully not paying Kinkos an absorbent amount of money to do so) and handing it out to a few friends and loved ones. Well, unfortunately, I’m here to tell you it’s not so simple. Inversely, however, I’m also here to tell you how to avoid the hiccups myself and friends had to hurdle.
This is a point of contention among my colleagues and I. Some think it’s better to do it all in one shot, others think it’s easier spread out. Either way you slice it, there appears to be no speed track for this undertaking that we might call “showing other people”. What I’ve found to be the fastest and most efficient way of completing this step is to break it into sections. Because unfortunately nowadays no one has any real urgency to read. Yes, you’re going to hope your book captures their attention and completely spell binds them, but this is the age of television and Xbox Ones, and I’m afraid folks just aren’t as avid readers as they used to be let’s say in the 1800s or something. So, the way myself and few others have become accustomed to doing it, is we break it into sections. What that looks like is you collect a couple friends who are willing to read, and you separate them into manageable number groups, like if you have 7, do a group of 4 first and 3 last. Once you’ve collected your beta readers (a whole other battle we’ll discuss) you should separate them into sections depending on who you think will finish it faster and who you think will be more thorough as well as whether or not they are in your ultimate target market. My advice is to start with the more thorough individuals first, mostly because those that are faster will be a breath of fresh air afterward and will make it easier on you to put in those final edits they’ll give you because you’ll have them sooner rather than later. Choose like three readers at a time, and then this is the key, set up deadlines for them. Deadlines will keep your readers at least moderately on track and give them a sense of urgency. Schedule, depending on how fast you want it back, weekly to monthly appointments with each one and tell them what’s expected in these meetings. Use these get together to discuss their comments and how they’re finding your book. Talk about all the English class jargon you can and use it not only as a point of critique but as a point of kudos! For after you leave their presence you’ll have to go home and put all of those edits to the page. It will be a long process that you’ll get tired of quickly if they aren’t complementing you along the way. In truth, it’ll be hard not to enjoy their feedback no matter what flavor it takes on because your work will be getting attention at long last and that will always feel good.
As an aside, there is a wonderful program now open to the public that makes the beta reading process that much easier on you and your readers. You can find it here :
Happy writing and reading!
Please check out the book that I put through numerous rounds of beta reading, the newly released title “The Belle of Eden” Here