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Beta Reader

June 4, 2009

Your beta reader is the first person to read your rough draft. This is the person who tells you what scenes work or don’t work. Notifies you of grammar and spelling mistakes. Someone who will be critical and brutally honest. So, whoever you pick as your beta reader is very important. Family and non-writer friends need not apply.

My family are so supportive but never are truly honest. Rather they don’t know enough about the writing process to provide the right honest opinion. My first critique partner was fairly helpful but at the time, I was more productive than he was. While we remain friends, our partnership dissolved. I moved on to an online critique group which I pretty much ran. Had basically the same problem. Since then, I have had writing friends critique my work but not a reliable beta reader.

You must have a set criteria for the beta readers you seek. For example, someone who has a similar work ethic as yourself or writes in the same genre. Be specific as to what kind of partner you are looking for.

Andrea is currently seeking a beta reader. She primarily writes Horror but still dabbles in YA Contemporary. Check out her website for more information.

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  1. June 4, 2009 9:00 am

    Its a tough call being on the other side of the table – critiquing anothers work. Paul touched on it in his podcast – who are we to presume to judge anothers work?

    I think its valuable – as you said – to have clear outcomes on what you want. Too often we know what we ‘don’t ‘ want.. but are clueless to what we are actually after.

    thanks for the post.

  2. June 4, 2009 10:29 am

    I apologize if I’m nit-picking, but isn’t the FIRST draft a little too early for a beta reader? I mean, first drafts are usually messy and full of problems. Isn’t it better to revise the draft for a while, clean up what you can, and then hand it over to a beta reader?

  3. June 4, 2009 7:06 pm

    J.M. – I think it’s really up to you. It’s all about what’s comfortable for you. Most of the people I’ve critiqued for handed me their first draft, mistakes and all. Some may not have the patience for all the little things. Just depends.

  4. June 4, 2009 7:51 pm

    I’m afraid that in the past I’ve probably been the least productive in beta reader relationships.

    At the moment, I’m barely finding enough time for my own writing, let alone to read others.

    But I have a First Reader, my partner. She’s not a writer and will usually just give a raw feeling of whether it’s good or not. Not great advice but it keeps me motivated.

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