For me, after all of the nitpicking you go through, you’re probably going to feel that your manuscript has been violated. I mean, it was violated by you, so can it really be that bad? It really isn’t, but what comes next is.
Your manuscript is about to be violated by beta readers.
“Wait, what do you mean, Stephan? You mean that other people are going to be reading my book and critiquing it? They are going to be flipping through my well-crafted pages and telling what sucks and what is great?”
The simple truth is yes. And I will go one step further. You will hate it. Now, I know we all put on our big boy or big girl pants when we decided to be a writer. Our thesaurus is roaring and our imagination is burning. But I can tell you from firsthand experience, that a beta reader is going to bring out the worst in you.
You are going to find yourself second guessing your writing. You may feel that the beta reader is not understanding the story right. They may seem mean, or uncaring. But the thing you must realize is that if a beta reader can’t follow along or understand your story, then how will all of your readers?
You may find yourself going a bit insane, as hinted by the title.
Note: Every time I try to search Lunacy Fringe, I spell Fridge instead, and also because of copyright. For those of you wondering, it’s a song by The Used.
This isn’t a bad thing either. The point of a beta reader is to do several things including:
1. Ensuring the hook pulls you into the story.
2. Seeing if the characters develop.
3. Pointing out Plot holes.
4. Finding if the story holds interest.
5. Helping clear up convoluted parts.
And this is not an all-inclusive list. There are many other things that a beta reader will do for you that you should appreciate. In the end, they are trying to help you write a novel that is the best version it can be.
When you write, you don’t see everything. Why? Because the things that you are doing, you have been doing for years. What happens when you have a habit? You do it without thinking about it. The same holds true for writing. This is why you need a fresh set of eyes on your manuscript.
Where can I find a beta reader?
1. Family and Friends – This should be your first stop. You don’t have to search for them, or pay them (hopefully). And their critique may actually be softer than someone who doesn’t know you. You need the real deal, but starting off this way may be easier.
2. Writing Community Members – The #writingcommunity is a community for a reason. I have been a part of many beta reads, and also many swap and reviews, and can say that this is a group who really care about each other. They want to see you succeed. @MegTrast even has a great site (Overhaul My Novel) for editing and beta readers.
3. Goodreads Groups – Before Twitter, I found some great beta readers on Goodreads. Their groups are very specific and you can post your blurb in there and see if someone wants to pick it up to take it for a beta ride.
4. Facebook Groups – Facebook is also a good source for writers and those in need of beta reading. I put it last because I found the first three way more helpful. All of these places are supportive, but I would look at them all before you make a decision.
And these are just a few. A simple search of the internet will help in finding other places to find beta readers and their invaluable service. The biggest tip that I can give you is to find someone who enjoys your genre. They will appreciate it, and be able to give more catered advice that someone who is unfamiliar.
Do you have a go to for your beta readers?