Writers Helping Writers: Beta Readers

So you’ve written and edited your novel within an inch of its life. It’s been transformed from an unsightly rough draft to something that you are really proud of. Let me be the first to say fantastic job! You’ve come a lot farther than most writers out there.

But there’s still some work to do.

If you are intending on publishing your work, then you will need to go through yet another round of people reading your story. These are your Beta Readers.

Beta Readers are people that you trust to give you honest feedback on the story you’ve written. The feedback doesn’t need to be full on edits, but they should be able to tell you what parts made them happy or what parts didn’t make sense. What they liked, what they didn’t like, etc. That being said, there are a few vital traits your beta readers need.

1.       Honest. They have to be comfortable enough with you to give you an honest opinion of your work. It defeats the whole purpose if they simply tell you “it’s good.” The whole point of feedback from Beta Readers is much the same as editors; their comments and opinions are meant to improve the work.

2.       Reliable. Your Beta Readers need to be reliable enough to get you the story back along with their comments in a relatively good timeframe. Sure life happens, but it won’t do you any good to give someone a copy of your story and then never hear back from them or if they don’t bother to read it.

3.       Trustworthy. You are entrusting your Beta Reader with something you’ve worked months on. You have to be confident they will respect the integrity of your work.

There’s no set number of Beta Readers required for your work. I try to get at least one or two for my projects, but that’s really your choice.

May your Beta Readers be enchanted by your tale!