The Why and How of Beta Reading for Others

I really love beta reading.

Yes, it’s work. Yes, it’s time consuming. Yes, it can be stressful. Telling your friend, family member, or acquaintance that they’ve made mistakes is tough. The thing is, it’s all worth it. Why? Because beta readers are better writers.

I’m currently beta reading my eighth book. These eight have come from three different authors, each with their own unique style, in disparate genres, and I have learned from them all. I am better for having done the work and the reason for that is distance.

The Benefit of Distance

“Practice makes perfect,” but we all know how blinded we can become to our own work. The proper phrase should be, “accurate practice makes perfect,” and it’s hard to be accurate after the umpteenth pass through your own manuscript. “We’re too close Goose, we’re switching to guns,” or rather, someone else’s work.

Reading your buddy’s stuff is beneficial because there’s a distance there. When we flex our critique muscles on someone else’s work, it separates our abilities as writers and our abilities as analysts. We can practice these skills, accurately, with out all of the baggage we bring with us into our own writing. With each successive book I’ve beta read, I’ve honed my skills and after each book, I’m able to slice through my own work with more precision.

How to Beta Read

The first rule of beta reading is that you are not proofreading. The second rule of beta reading is that you are not proof reading. Continue reading

Through the Peepers of Others: Part 2 of 3 – Alpha and Beta Readers

No matter how good your first, second, or even third draft is, it’s not ready for primetime until someone else can evaluate it. Like a doctor operating on their dying child, it’s a bad idea to only trust your own work. You’re just too close.

In the traditional publishing world, at least a few sets of eyes (agents, editors, etc.) will scour your book to help you make it something worth printing. Self published authors who are doing it right also hire editors. These people are paid. Their time is precious and limited. Your book isn’t the only one on their plate.

What if you could fine tune your work so that a.) you could present agents with writing that is attractive and b.) you could present editors with work that is already mostly fixed, therefore leaving them more time to scrutinize the small stuff? Well folks I’m here to tell you it’s very possible. Enter your best friends, alpha and beta readers.

I say “best friends” because chances are, that’s who they are. Your friends, your family, your coworkers, the cool lady from your ultimate frisbee league, these could be the saviors of your story.

Before we dive into how to utilize alpha and beta readers, let’s get clear about what they actually are. Continue reading