Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Beta Readers Rock

Think your own editing and a pro-editor is enough? Think again!

When I finished editing Barefoot Girls I knew that even though I'd gone over the manuscript too many times to count, I still needed many more pairs of eyes to see it and tell me about any flaws or problems or other issues.  No, not just one other pair of eyes, many and preferably not someone who would just say it was wonderful because they loved me. Like my mother.

So, I put out a request to all my Facebook friends and got five wonderful women who were willing to read the book and give me feedback. Let me tell you, it was a fantastic thing and a must-do for any writer, particularly if it is a first or second book and you're still learning the ropes. 

How do you get Beta Readers? Here are a few tips from my experience:

  • Avoid asking anyone you think might just praise your writing no matter how bad it is. You're looking for feedback, not flattery.
  • Likewise, avoid asking anyone you think tends to be overcritical. If they tear apart everything, your poor book will be torn apart, too, and that won't help you at all.
  • Offer your beta readers either an ebook or a bound galley of some kind. Do not give them a huge printed wad of a manuscript - think about making it as convenient as possible for them. I offered an ebook in any format they wanted and used Calibre to create them (proofed them, too, before sending to make sure they weren't an illegible mess).
  • Tell your Beta Readers that they will be mentioned in the Acknowledgements (and do it) as well as receive a print copy once the book is published for their library. Of course, make sure they actually want a print copy (almost all of mine did).
  • When you get feedback, thank them for their time and help and note what their issues with the book were. Do not feel that you have to make every suggested change, but be open to it - otherwise, why bother asking for feedback? If more than one person finds the same problem, you HAVE to fix it. If you can't figure out how to fix it, either join a writer's workshop and submit it or get a developmental editor to help you with that section/part of the book. But if more than one person had a problem with anything in the book, the majority of readers will have the same problem and that must be fixed before any readers buy the book (and subsequently get pissed off, rightly so).

Hope this helps and, while I'm talking Beta Readers, a big shout-out to mine is in order. My eternal gratitude to Elise Gallivan, Tanya Hale, Yvette Hochberg, Rita Morgan, and Tanya Wells for your help and wisdom - you are all goddesses!

1 comment:

  1. Loved Barefoot Girls and read it so fast I couldn't think of anything else. Your readers did great job!