Saturday, October 21, 2006
Beta Readers -- My Heroes!
Noon and 86 degrees. Slightly cloudy.
Orion sits quietly at the dock. It's going to be a muggy day.
Enough about Orion.
Today I want to talk about my beta readers.
They are invaluable and I am fortunate to have many of them. They all have their unique perspective and are able to help me make my novels the best that they can be.
My first beta reader (or mother of all beta readers) is my friend Bob. He read my first book and each one after that. He is a voracious reader and while commercial women's fiction is not his first choice in reading material, he has become an excellent critical partner. He points out wimpy characters and plot holes. If I can keep his interest, I know I have a story.
My reader C.M. is phenomenal for the structure of the plot arc and is probably the best copy editor I have ever met. She could go into business. My dialog punctuation is due to her expertise.
Some are cheerleaders like P.S. and keep my self-esteem in order. She is able to focus on the best parts and make sure I know my strengths. She is also awesome on commas and paragraph continuity.
I have other readers like K.K., D.V.,S.C., B.L.,R.M.(female),R.M.(male), and E.N. that are from Oregon, Hawaii, Montana and France that give honest feedback and have become my readers by virtue of being the friend of a friend of a friend. They are excited to read manuscripts that are not in print yet and feel that they are contributing to the career of a writer (which they are!).
I have a few friends that have become readers. F.B. and P.K. have read every one of my books and are avid fans yet can point out inconsistencies that even after ten edits, I have missed.
My cousin S.D. - a former English teacher - has made amazing contributions to pacing and catches details that only a teacher could find!
If you are a writer and crave feedback on your manuscripts it is well worth your while to cultivate a herd of betas. Talk to college students, children, friends of friends, librarians. Readers NOT writers. Give them a printed bound copy of your manuscript and get them started. You will gain much.
I have more betas who I did not name and will probably collect more. It is enormously helpful for both the novel's development and mine as a writer.
It is due to their diligence that I have an agent now.
I thank them all from the depth of my writerly soul.