Tonight at 8-9 pm EST I’m hosting Chick Lit Chat on twitter. To join in the conversation and fun, chat by using #ChickLitChat. It’s open to both readers and writers (published and aspiring). I hope to see you there!
Tonight, we’re chatting about Beta Readers!
So what is a Beta Reader?
A Beta Readers is the person who reads your work before anyone else. Or well, almost anyone else. I’m sure you probably have a loved one or close friend or mom who likes to read your very first, bordering on ugly, draft. But after that, you need a fresh set of eyes on your work—preferably a critical set of eyes. Someone who reads your work and then tells you it’s marvelous isn’t really doing you any favors.
I’ll admit it. My mum is one of my first readers. I have a select group of family members who read my books before anyone else does. And I’ll also admit that she wasn’t the best beta reader when we started out. It’s not her fault at all. I didn’t tell her what I needed a beta reader to do. The first book or two of mine she read, she didn’t have many things to say about it, good or bad. *Red Flag!* But after a little persistent questioning, I eventually learned the things she loved and also the things she didn’t like. For example:
Me: So how was the book?
Mum: Awesome, honey. I loved it. Wonderful characters. Great plot. Totally kept me interested.
…. 15 minutes of chatting about the book and things I was still feeling unsure about…
Me: So what did you think about that part where X happens?
Mum: What part was that?
Me: You know, the part where he did this and she did that?
Mum: Oh… I skimmed that part.
And then the truth comes out. YOU SKIMMED THAT PART! Um, well, that would be good feedback. Ding, ding, ding. We have a scene that needs to be fixed, axed, or completely reformed. This is the kind of feedback you want from your beta readers! Turns out my mum didn’t want to hurt my feelings saying anything bad about my books. *Head meet desk* … but totally… *Aww! My mum loves me!* Then I told her that she wouldn’t hurt my feelings and that I wasn’t going to sell my books to publishers if they suck, so I needed to know where exactly they sucked.
Let me assure you, after careful review of the last set of notes I got from her, we’re definitely over the hurt feelings thing. LOL! I love my mum.
There’s so much that goes into a good beta reader relationship. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on the subject tonight!