Just like software companies use beta tests for users to try out their new program, authors are now using 'beta readers' to try out their books. Beta readers 'test out' an author's recently finished manuscript to provide feedback to the author in the same vein as beta test users. They answer questions that authors may have, like, did the story make sense? Are the characters likable? Does the story have a good flow to it? In this way, beta readers make sure an author's book has good readability. Like with any other service for authors, there are pros and cons to using a beta reader, as specified below:
Pros of Using Beta Readers
Valuable Feedback: Receiving feedback is a crucial step for completing any type of book. Yes, editors can give you feedback on grammar, vocabulary or proper cultural/historical references. But beta readers differ from editors in that they will offer feedback as a reader, the overall intended audience for your work in the first place!
Easy to Find: Thanks to the Internet, it has become easier than ever to find the right beta reader for you. There are plenty of beta reader groups on social media, online forms or on freelance hiring sites. Most of the time, beta workers are willing to for free or for a very low cost. Alternatively, you can ask an acquaintance to act as a beta reader.
Can Become Long-Term Partners: Success with a beta reader can mean much more than coming out with a better manuscript. If you develop a good relationship with the reader, they can turn into a long-term critique partner for future works you may have.
Cons of Using Beta Readers
Potential Bias: Every reader, whether they admit it or not, comes with bias. In the field of beta readers, asking an acquaintance or someone you may know means an increased chance of bias, as they may only want to give you positive feedback. It's important to find a beta reader who can be as impartial as possible so as to provide the most honest and valuable feedback.
Incorrect Information: An important step in finding a beta reader is to make sure they are a good match for your work. If you work with a beta reader who doesn't generally read your genre or who does not have some knowledge of regular book formats, you may receive information from them that can be detrimental to the progress of your work.
Unreliability: Beta readers read nearly finished books because they love reading, not because they get paid, and since beta readers work for free, there is a chance that you may face reliability issues. Possibilities include beta readers not meeting deadlines, giving inconsistent responses, or not responding to your inquiries on your work at all. It may help to offer return services for your beta reader, such as offering to beta read their works if they are a writer, to help build relatability.
Beta readers can provide a worthy service to writers in the publishing process, and should be considered by all authors. You could get valuable feedback that will make your current work in progress stronger and give you more things to think about when performing your final drafts and edits.
Read More on Editing
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- 6 Tips for Performing Your Final Book Edit Before Formatting and Publication
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- Should I Hire an Editor for My Novel Before Submitting It to an Agent?
- 8 Tips on How to Quickly Self-Edit a Novel
- Extreme Fiction Manuscript Editing ...
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This is the no-fluff, serious writer's guide to getting your novel started, edited and finished.
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