A good beta reader is worth their weight in gold. Seriously. Put them on a scale, weigh them, and pay up.
😊 Wouldn’t it be amazing to be able to do that? I can’t even imagine having that kind of money… But I digress.
Beta readers are the first people, besides you the author, to read your work. They’re job is to give you feedback on your story – good and bad. They let you know the things you’ve done well, the parts that sing, the parts that made them laugh and what made them cry (hopefully not in frustration).
They also let you know if your story makes sense. Does the overall narrative flow? Are the characters engaging? The pace good? Does the clean-shaven character on page 20 suddenly have a beard to his belly on page 21 and there was no time lapse? The list goes on and on.
A good beta will find all these items (plus a few dozen you never considered) without once attempting to alter your story from its original being. They’re there to help you improve the story you’re telling, not make it into their story.
Finding beta readers like that can be a challenge, but it is so rewarding.
If you’re new to sharing your story, start with a friend or family member – someone you emotionally trust. The first time you share your work is a big step, and it’s important to find someone who will be honest but gentle in their feedback. You need to know the parts that don’t work so you can improve, but you also don’t need someone to rip you to shreds straight off the bat – unless that’s the feedback you ask from them.
And starting off with those you trust can be a great way to get a feel for what style of feedback you’re looking for. Do you need someone to focus on character development, story arc, or pacing? Do you like someone who dissects the story, or are you looking for more general feedback? It may be a combination.
Writing is a process, so is editing and finding a good beta reader can make the editing part of the process far more enjoyable.