When it comes to writing a book, you may often hear the author searching for and requesting beta readers. This happens during or after the editing process and before the book is published.
A beta reader, also known as an alpha reader, is a reader who agrees to read through a written piece of work, usually fiction. This is to help the author make some last minute decisions with the book before publishing. Beta readers are like test readers to give the author a sense of how well their book may be received by the targeted audience.
So, what exactly do they do?
What They Do
Beta readers can do a lot of things that include, but are not limited to:
- Checking for spelling and grammar
- Looking more in depth at the plot, continuity and other elements of the story
- Give their overall general impressions of the story – what they liked and what they didn’t like
- Help improve the story overall
You may be thinking to yourself, “This is very similar to an editor.” Well, yeah. I can agree with you on that.
Still, an editor is searching for mistakes. A beta reader is reading your novel as your audience would. They will give their honest opinion and feedback to you about the novel similar to a book review, but with added flare (slight editing).
Beta readers help give your story that extra boost before you hit the “publish” button for all the world to see that plot hole on page 151.
Why else do you need a beta reader?
Often when we write, we know what we’re trying to say. It’s all in our heads, but it may not come out on paper that way.
As a writer, you describe something and think that’s enough because you know what you’re talking about. But the readers sometimes won’t. Beta readers will catch that.
Beta readers will give you a “report” on your novel. It’s like a cross between a book review and a little editing. They’ll speak their honest opinion about what they liked and what they didn’t like. What there was too much of something in the story, what there was too little of in the story. They really break it down.
The best part? Everyone is entitled to their own opinion.
That means if you give the same manuscript to three different beta readers, chances are you’ll get three different results.
In the end, it’s your novel, so you decide which pieces of advice to us and which not to us. Still, look at it all and really think about it.
And, if all your beta readers agree that something in the book is not working, definitely take a look at that.
Is a beta reader worth it?
Yes. Yes, I think it is. It’s another pair of eyes looking at your manuscript and it’s your very first reader who maybe become a fan.
Beta readers’ opinions are so important. Take them with a grain of salt, but don’t ignore them.
Have you had beta readers before? What was your experience? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.