Self-Publishing Salon: Using Beta Readers
A beta reader is a trusted book lover whose opinion helps you to do a final self-edit on your book before sending it to the editor. But how do you choose the right beta readers? And how do you ensure you’ll get constructive advice on your manuscript and not just a review or opinion?
Both of us emphasised that beta reading is not a substitute for the editing process and that it is essential for beta readers to be familiar with your book’s genre. They also need to have read widely, be able to sufficiently describe what they appreciate, and would like to see changed. And have the ability to give constructive criticism, not a skill that everyone has.
I also pointed out how important it is to prepare yourself for the process and give it sufficient time.
There was a lively discussion on the Facebook page during the live session and RK Lander pointed out that – like everything in publishing – it is hardest the first time. It’s much easier to get a good beta group together once you already have happy readers.
- A fiction beta reader needs to have an appreciation of the elements of fiction: setting, characterisation, theme and so on, as well as plot.
- A non-fiction beta reader needs to understand how information is organised and unfolded across a book-length text.
- A poetry beta reader must have a sense of the language as well as the content. They would hopefully be familiar with different poetic forms, haiku, sonnet, sestina etc. More than likely they will be poets themselves.
Indeed, writers generally making very good beta readers.
Self-Publishing Salon: Using Beta Readers Recommendations
- ALLi partner Member service Scribophile, helps with the beta editing process.
- An excellent book about beta readers by an ALLi member is Belinda Pollard’s Beta Reader Superhero Writer’s Handbook.
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