When I first started writing I had no idea what a beta reader was. I didn’t even know the term existed yet it was one of those things that I discovered along the way. Now they are a vital part of my writing life, confirming to me that a novel is not just about the author, it is a collaboration – a collaboration that involves much hard work and dedication from everyone involved.
For those that may not know, a beta reader is essentially someone who reads your book prior to publication. Depending upon who they are and what you need, sometimes they will read in order to provide you with an early review on Amazon (or similar) or on other occasions they will give you structured feedback from a reader’s perspective. This time around I have been fortunate enough to have some brilliant beta readers who are all giving me constructive criticism.
At first, when we receive any kind of criticism of our work, it is hard to hear. Even though it is impossible – even for bestselling authors – there is a small part of us that would rather like our first draft to be perfect. Right? Yet the reality is far from that. Even if our draft is on second, third or fiftieth phase, it will still be in need of a professional edit and valuable feedback from readers.
Having just received some early feedback my initial reaction was to feel a little dejected. It didn’t take long for me to convince myself that I had no talent and was wasting my time and then suddenly, a light went on. I don’t know what happened but in amongst all of that self-pity I finally realised that the structured feedback was brilliant. Genius. It was exactly what I needed to hear because it meant that I had a chance to improve my book before publication and what writer wouldn’t want that opportunity? Not only that, it gives me direction that I can feed back to my editor allowing necessary changes to be made before publication. Turning it around I am now devouring their comments and listening avidly to their concerns because it means that when I get to publication, I will know that I’ve given my book the best chance that I possibly can.
I am truly honoured to have some amazing beta readers and now, as I sit here and type this, I could not be more thankful. They are putting their lives aside for a while to help me on my journey and if nothing else, that is truly humbling.
Thank you beta readers. You know who you are.
(I have friends, family and fellow authors reading for me but if you are looking for readers, asking via your blog is a really great way to find them.)