Friday, May 24, 2013

The Beta Reader

This is a concept I have heard a fair amount over the years as I attempted to get my novels to readable condition. Now that it leers over my head with the edit coming closer to an end, I have to wonder about the beta reader because I would like to have a couple of them.  But how does one find such a reader? hmmm

Here beta, beta. Come here little beta...

No luck so far. But I will keep trying. ;-)

Kidding aside, I do have some wonderings about the beta reader concept that I'm going to ramble about here for your reading pleasure. Because for some the beta is an important step. The test read with people who can give the writer an outside pov on their book. There are others who don't share their work until they submit, forgoing the beta stage for a jump into the shark tank approach (lovable sharks hopefully). But it's a decision we have to make. To find the test readers or not.

What is a beta reader?
A beta reader is a reader who before a books release to the public (or sent out to in hopes of interest from publisher or agents) with a critical eye, with the aim of improving grammar, spelling, characterization, and general style.

Okay, there are a couple different types. Some will look at just the overall picture. They will look at the story as a general reader about the overall story and characters. Some of the minor details will be ignore so little comma misses and typos aren't viewed as important to point out. Others (those who have been editors themselves for example) may focus on the minutae and not as much on the overall story. This I notice in particular when looking at single chapters at a time. It's harder to see the overall picture in some cases and the technical notes can be helpful if the novel is ready for that. Some will cover all bases at once, which depending on the amount needed the write has to be ready to handle the information being offered them.

Sounds nice right? Helpful and such. Sure... So once you decide to go with the beta reader, the next question becomes: who?

I don't have that answer. I had a few writing friends that wanted to test read a couple of my novels but that was years ago and now that I'm getting close to having an edit done, those that offered aren't in touch anymore. So, I'm at square one in my search for a couple test readers. I even tried joining this group a blogger had where you could search and email others to maybe find a critique partner/beta reader. Didn't have any luck.

So, now to you. 
Do you have a Beta reader?
Are you skipping the beta step?
What method to you recommend for finding a beta reader?


Konstanz Silverbow said...

Beta readers . . . I ask closer friends who are also authors. I have found that an author is going to give better feedback than a general reader. And I came to that conclusion the hard way.

I use the beta step because it is crucial to know what people are going to think. That and I fear that because I know the story so well, I will live out vital pieces of information. I need someone who can tell me that parts of the story don't make sense.

As for finding a beta reader? Well to start with, I would be glad to beta for you! Most people trade beta for beta.

There is also a group on Facebook that is for this exact purpose. Helping authors find beta readers.

I do believe you can request to join the group or if you want to give me your Facebook name I can add you as a friend and invite you to the group.

Good luck! I hope that I was helpful!

~Konstanz Silverbow

Erin Kane Spock said...

My betas are a handful of friends and relatives, but I have to be careful with their commentary. My mother in law will find typos, but never has anything negative to say about my writing... so I'm either the best writer in the world or she's biased. :) I've tried to broaden my scope, but people are unwilling to commit to being painfully honest.

Brandon Ax said...

I use a three way approach. One person to read that likes the genre, one who reads outside the genre and one author friend. This gives me three views.

As far as finding people it is hard maybe post a blog asking if anyone is interested and giving a blurb of your story. I know two of the people in my every day life and the author friend I met through blogging.

Dawn Embers said...

Konstanz Silverbow - That was my initial plan. I had a couple writing buddies a few years ago, but the problem is the ones who wanted to read this one for me are no longer in contact. Guess we weren't quite good enough friends for it to last how long it took me to get the novel ready. My sister wants to read it and I will let her cause it's one of the few I've got she might like but other than that, I'll probably see if any of my current writing buddies have the time. I just worry more about asking because it's a big favor to ask. Thanks for the link to the facebook group.

Erin Kane Spock - That is a challenge. Finding the ones who can provide the type of read. I used to be in a critique group but when going chapter by chapter one at a time it was easier to get comments on the small issues (grammar and such) when I needed big story comments instead. Need someone who sill be honest about the book as a whole.

Brandon Ax - Sounds like a good approach. Thanks for the input and suggestion. :-)

Denise Covey said...

Hey Dawn glad your edits are coming to an end. I am so grateful for the input of my crit partners as I am about to finish my first novel - just swapped mss with blogger friends - and are they ever helpful. I wouldn't consider not having writers read my work before subbing. There are online groups too. I just swap chapters so it's fair. Good luck.

Tara Tyler said...

falling for fiction does a dating service to match up betas & cps once in a while.

i wrote a post asking for volunteers and made a couple of connections that way. i also have offered my services in return.

we have an awesome community here!

Mary Montague Sikes said...

Good luck with the beta reader. Also with getting the agent you want. Self publishing does not appear to be an easy road and it's not for everyone.

Mary Montague Sikes