While we are talking about reviewers… we should talk about beta-readers. Beta-readers are one of the most popular ways for authors to get feedback on their work. It’s always a good idea to find out how people will react to a book, or story… and beta-readers provide a valuable service… but how do you get the best out of your beta-readers? Try these tips for size….
A beta-reader is still a reader who may tell other readers about your book. It’s important to treat your beta readers well, and that begins with what you ask them to read. Don’t give them your first draft. In fact, be sure that what you give them is the very best writing you can produce on your own. Write your draft and set it aside for at least a week. Go back to it and rewrite it if you need to. Then set it aside for another week — again. Revise, revise, revise, until it isn’t remotely possible for you to do any better.
Before you send your manuscript to your beta readers, ask them what format they’d like it in. Beta readers might want to print your manuscript or read it on a Kindle. If they prefer the latter option, send them instructions for how to get your manuscript on an e-reader. Do whatever you can to remove any obstacles that will prevent your beta reader from carving out time to read your book. Don’t just dump them with a word document.
What Would You Like?
Before you send your book to your beta-reader try to work out what you’d like them to look for. Maybe it would be a clever idea to develop a checklist with questions you’d like answers to. Do you want readers to comment on the strength of a plot line, or the development of a concept? If you create a specific list of questions around content, beta readers won’t spend their time punctuating sentences. Adapt your revision checklist to meet the needs of each book your write.
it takes a great deal of time to read and respond to a book. And your beta readers will have opinions that might sting a little. Be gracious for any feedback a beta reader gives you, even if you don’t agree with it. Ask yourself, “Will addressing this comment make for a better book?” If so, take their advice and apply it to your next revision. If not, whatever you do, don’t defend yourself. Your beta reader already knows your position (you’ve done as you’ve seen fit, as evidenced by your manuscript) but they don’t agree. Thank them for their comments and move on.