Friday, September 20, 2013

My Maiden Voyage with Beta Readers

I've never before used Beta Readers.  In fact, until a couple of months ago, I didn't even know for sure what a Beta Reader was or was supposed to do.

Short explanation: Beta Readers are folks (often fellow writers, but not exclusively) who read your manuscript and give you feedback.  The feedback can take on just about any shape - from formatting to dialogue to plot to structure to punctuation, and everything in between.

A little while ago, I (nervously) sent the manuscript of Frisky Business to six people.  They all got back to me fairly quickly (which in itself was a very good sign.)  

Wow!  What a cool process this beta reading thing is!  The overall reactions were positive, very positive, and obviously that made me do a happy dance!  Yay!  

But, despite the loads of good karma these six people gave me, they also offered criticism - constructive, well-intended criticism.  

I'm so very glad they did!!!

As I read through their comments, I found myself nodding in agreement.  I thought to myself: "Yes... Good point!   ...My gawd, he's right!   ...Wow, her suggestion is terrific!" and so on.  

I can honestly say that there wasn't one point raised by a single one of them that I disagreed with.  So, revisions are being made, and Frisky Business will be a better book because of going through this process!

It's a good feeling to try something new and to have it work out so well, so satisfyingly.  That's probably because I was smart enough to choose good Beta Readers.


  1. How do you find Beta Readers and what books or manuscripts use Beta Readers. Your post is very informative. Thanks for the tips.

  2. I'm glad you found it a good experience, Jill. I think you've put your finger on what's important too, in a beta reader: promptness, honesty (without being cutting) and support. Thoroughness too helps, I've found.

  3. Charles: Just ask people (fellow writers, bookworms)! Don't be shy about asking - the worst they can say is "no".

  4. Is that not what your editor does though...

  5. @Matthew - this is a good step to do before it goes to the editing stage (which is not nearly as much fun!)