Let’s chat about beta readers for a hot minute. Some writers use them, some don’t. I fall into the former camp, and quite frankly don’t understand those in the latter. But that’s just me, and here are five reasons why I think every writer should use at least one beta reader.
- They’re not you. This is the most obvious reason to use even a single beta reader. They don’t think like you, write like you, read like you, or comprehend like you. Neither do your normal readers. This “second” set of eyes is never (read: never ever) a bad idea.
- Beta readers provide a mandatory “away” time. This goes along with the first item. You’re too close to your work, and that’s never truer than after working on a draft for three, four, six, eight months. Even if you only give your beta readers a week, that’s a week your brain takes a vacation from this story.
- Also working in conjunction with the first point: beta readers are all different, too. Personally, I use “writer” beta readers and “reader” beta readers. In simple terms, I use both writers I trust and readers (you know, people who love to read but don’t write worth a shit) I trust. Each one brings something unique to the table.
- Beta readers can be trained. Well, not really, but my point here is that you can ask specific beta readers to evaluate specific portions of your work. I call this focused feedback, and when used sparingly with the right beta readers, can pinpoint serious trouble spots in your manuscript.
- Lastly, and this has little to do with making your book better, but more in the marketing vein: depending on who you’re beta readers are, you can as for book blurbs. Respected editor, author, or book blogger one of your beta readers? Don’t be afraid to ask for a short blurb for the back cover or your website. If your mom is your only beta reader, you’re shit out of luck with number five, but at least points 1-4 are still applicable.
Hit me in the comments with agreements, contrary opinions, or additions to the list!