I have been revising of my work-in-progress. I am 30% through it and I wonder if it is time to consider finding beta readers. My concern is I haven’t been at this very long and things the pros take for granted, I question or struggle with.
Where do you find beta readers? Rather, where does a strong introvert find beta readers? I am in a critique group and had several submissions critiqued. I found the comments useful for the material submitted. None of the comments gave me their thoughts how it fit in the plot, did the scene move the book forward, or such. Reality, I didn’t expect that because the only practical critique was thoughts on writing technique, sentence structure, word choice, and such. In return, I provided similar reviews of other member’s snippets. I couldn’t address plot, character development, etc. either from the 2000-3000 words I critiqued.
They are what I need from the person or persons willing to dedicate time reading my writing. How do I find this (these) person(s)? Could I trust a volunteer a family member to be objective in their assessment? Advertising on one of the social media sites might bring volunteer(s), I suppose. How do I evaluate them?
How do I know they understand my genre? Or would provide constructive evaluation of plot, character development, scene development, etc. How do I evaluate if their assessment?
Questions and few answers. Blogs I read suggest social media friends. Great idea but it seems those I have for “friends” are “romance” authors or fantasy authors so embarrassingly successful that I wouldn’t think of approaching them to read my drivel. Other blogs warn to take care in selecting beta readers. I forget the reasons but suspect warning that bad feedback can be hard on my …
Here I am without a finished work worrying about getting someone to read it. Now, after writing this, I wonder if I am putting the proverbial cart before the horse. Am I?
What are your thoughts on beta readers? How did you find yours? What genre do you write?
My sister is my beta reader. She is very good. Brutal when necessary, and honest about where the good parts are.
She loves to read, but she and I both inherited a strong analytical nature. And, having grown up together, she knows what to say to get me to listen.
She’s quite good at plot and character development. She leaves the steamy bits for me to sort out as romance isn’t her favorite genre. She prefers fantasy, which fits into other elements of my stories.
I will say, I have struggled finding anyone else, especially in the Romance world, that I really trust to give me good feedback. I’ve tried a couple of online things with no success.
I wouldn’t be adverse to paying for a solid editor, but I haven’t found one in the romance world I don’t think is bunk.
It is good that you have someone you trust for good feedback. I have months to find that person or persons. Until then trying to get a good revision by 1 August. On pace, if I don’t get too wrapped up in SUMMER!
I haven’t considered the idea of a beta reader, to be honest. I think it’s a wonderful idea.
One thought from my years studying visual arts, have you considered giving the work a bit of time to rest – clearing your head – and then coming back with fresh eyes? I mean, while you’re looking for said beta reader.
But, back to your actual question, I think you should explore the idea with the resources you have around you. Is there anybody in your critique group who seems solidly dedicated? Friends and family should be fine as long as there is the complete understanding that respect is expected, but personal feelings are not to be taken into account. I think it’s an opportunity to learn with somebody how to read and edit and make the suggestions you mentioned. Maybe they feel they lost interest, but don’t know exactly what to say about that. You could work together (discussing it) to understand why and then you’d both be able to spot it more quickly in the future.
Just a thought.
Good suggestions, Earnie. Appreciate the thoughts. I am revising right now with the goal of 1 August. Figured to toss out the issue early. Keep in mind a reader when you get a good draft.
It sounds like you could benefit from what my critique group and I call a “plotathon.” If you are rewriting before you get to the end, it may be an indication that your story structure could use some tightening.
In our “plotahons” we look at the outline and a few chapters. Then we have a discussion (usually paired with Aldi wine). The author talks about what she is struggling with in the story and the readers ask lots of questions that really get the creative juices flowing.
I’ve also found that beta readers are most helpful when you list a few areas that you would like them to look at. For example: “What did you think about the relationship between the protagonist and the wizard?” I’ve also found the following questions to be really helpful: “Where did you lose interest? Where were you confused or lost in the story?”
Be sure never to ask leading questions or those that can be answered with a simple yes or no. For example: “Do you think the wizard was mysterious?”
Thank you. Your plotathon does sound like an excellent way to shake off the cobwebs. I appreciate the question examples. I hadn’t considered the issue of yes/no questions but open ended ones would obviously draw more comments.
Thanks again for reading and providing a thoughtful comment.