Friday, January 20, 2012

Betaing yourself up

Most aspiring writers have heard of the term Beta editor or Beta Reader - someone who you send your draft MS to go through and provide feedback on.
But why is it so important to have them?

Perspective. A good Beta reader will give you a perspective on the flaws in your manuscript. It's easy to be so in love with your characters and your plot that you don't see what's missing from your MS - or what's in there doesn't need to be.

Listen to the feedback and learn from your writing buddy.                                            

Another benefit of this is preparing you for the editorial process if you do get an agent and/or a publisher. I haven't heard of an author that has been traditionally published who hasn't made some changes under the guidance of their agent or editor.

You need thick skin in the publishing game and getting constructive feedback from people you can help you get used to your precious process being picked to pieces.
So why should you be a Beta editor?

Well, for starters, if you're asking someone to read for you, then you should offer to return the favour.
But it also can help make you a better writer. I've been doing a fair bit of Beta reading lately for some writer friends and I've noticed two things.
Firstly, I see things that I'm missing in my work. It makes me want to aim higher with my writing.
Then, sometimes I see what's missing from my friends manuscripts. When I see missing character development or plot holes, it makes me think about my work and if I've done the same thing.
Giving and receiving feedback makes you a better writer. To find out more about being a good Beta reader here and ways to connect with other writers here. And tell us about your Beta reading experiences in the comments.


  1. Starting on inkpop was like a mini-beta reading experience, usually first chapters only. Now I've got a handful of beta readers and people I read for - people who have become trusted friends and I know they won't lead me astray. I SO respect their feedback. I don't think any book should go to publication without the eyes of a beta reader on it first. Betas point out the little things you don't think about as you're rushing through. And each person's different perspective helps to enrich the MS. I <3 my betas!

    1. <3 you too!! =D

      Building that trust is an important thing. You need to find readers who get your writing, but who will also speak up when there's something that needs addressing.

  2. The title made me lol. At first I thought it was a typo :P!

    Betas are absolutely critical! Oftentimes the issues they point out can help you discover other issues you might not have picked up on if you had just rushed out your manuscript. It really helps you see your work in a new, critical light. It can be hard sometimes to do things virtually, but absolutewrite is a wonderful site to get a beta reader. Also, I know betaing can make me nervous because I'm afraid the feedback I give my partner won't be as good as the feedback they give me! That's one of the reasons it's important to discuss with your beta expectations and a time-frame!Beta readers for queries is also a good idea :)

    1. Thanks for the comment Jo. The journalist in me loves making play on words titles.

      You're totally right about getting feedback on your queries too. Thanks for adding in the additional great advice for YAtopians.

  3. I really agree that when you beta-read for someone, you're going to wind up helping yourself even more than they are, probably. Once you know the things to look for in someone else's writing, you can usually spot it in yours. Not to mention, doing favors for people... usually winds up favorably!

    I should find a beta...