Twitter Chick Lit Chat 9/26/13 — Beta Readers

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!


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8 pings

  1. Tracie Banister (@traciebanister) says:

    LOL about the “skimming.” I do bounce ideas off my mom, but she doesn’t like to read my books until they’re published. Moms! 🙂

    I’ve been doing some beta reading lately, so I’ll be really interested to see what everyone has to say at chat tonight. If they have any tips or advice, what they think is the best way to go about it, etc.

    1. Heather says:

      Hi Tracie, Moms are funny creatures. 😉 I haven’t used or been a beta reader in the last few months, but I have a feeling that is going to change quickly now that the kids are back at school and I’m writing again.

  2. Heather McCoubrey says:

    I’m excited for this topic tonight! After getting the help of some beta readers on my latest WIP, I’ll be interested to know if I used them correctly and did what I was supposed to do. And I’ve been doing some beta reading as well, so all in all, an awesome topic and really quite relevant!! Thanks for hosting, very much looking forward to it tonight!

    1. Heather says:

      Hi Heather, I’m not sure you can use a beta reader incorrectly. I think as long as they fulfilled your requirements on the book you gave them, then it was successful. But maybe you’ll pick up a few tips or tricks that will help you out next time! Looking forward to chatting with you!

  3. Kristina Knight says:

    My mom hasn’t read any of my books, at least not yet. She might, someday, but they’re not her thing. BUT, she tells everyone, everywhere about my books and is a one-woman selling machine. lol

    I have a couple of trusted CPs who are also my beta readers. Will be eavesdropping on the chat tonight, to get some more tips.

    1. Heather says:

      Hi Kristina, I only have a couple of trusted beta readers as well. Trust is a big key in working with someone and one of the ways I choose my betas. I hope you’ll come chat with us tonight! And tell your betas they are welcome to join in the conversation too!

  4. Laura Chapman says:

    Aww moms! My mom did something similar… and then it came out that she “just couldn’t get into” my book. After recovering my shock, I realized my mom almost exclusively reads thrillers and mysteries, so it shouldn’t hurt my feelings when she isn’t into my RomCom. 🙂 Looking forward to this chat!

    1. Heather says:

      Hi Laura! Looking forward to chatting with you tonight too!

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