Monday, April 2, 2018

What Are Beta Readers?


This month I will be blogging about beta readers. As writers, what do we think of when we think about beta readers? What part in our getting our work to market do they play? Are they even necessary?

My definition of a beta reader would be someone who will give me honest feedback on my finished manuscript, someone who can spot errors and inconsitencies, and who is not afraid to share how they feel about my books. For someone like me who is a self-published author, a good beta reader is pure gold! (Note: While I write in the field of fiction, beta readers also work well for non-fiction work.)

Beta readers can help us improve the readability of our books, the consistency of the relationships betwen our characters, as well as the flow of the plot. They provide that extra pair of eyes that catch both big and little things that we don't see for ourselves. They help us fine tune our work so that once we get it out there, it sells. 

We might have built up an expectation in our book that we either failed to bring to fruition, or we forgot about completely. We could have left out vital steps in a scenario that was in our head, but never made it to paper. Our descriptions of events might not be as clear as they could be. The characters may not come across as clearly as they should, or their backstory might just not hold water.  

Some of you may be asking how beta readers are different from critique groups. In general, a critique group is looking at only a specific portion of your book, while beta readers are looking at the entire book. Beta readers will also give you written responses, while a critique group may or may not do that. Critique groups also take place in a group stting, which some people (myself included) my find uncomfortable. Since each beta reader reads the material on their own, their responses are not influenced by other peoples thoughts. Getting two or three beta readers for your book gives you an expanded view of your work, through different eyes. 

In my next blog, I am going to address where to find beta readers. Stay tuned!

(c) April 2018 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited wthout written permission of the author.   

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