So, last week I had the privilege of joining and experiencing a new writer’s group last week. The format that they followed included: writing challenges, critiques of submissions, and the study of an author who’d kept a consistent writing career. I would like to touch on the beta readers. Now, I personally did not do any critiques, because there is a process to submit it via email and in a Word form. It was very constructive, it had the following questions: What was positive about the piece? What didn’t you like about the piece? Negatives for the manuscript and nitpicks. During the process the author is figuratively dead, meaning they can’t comment or answer any questions. I think overall the process is daring. I say daring, because you are putting your baby on the line, and hopefully it is ready to publish. Right now, I am trying to finish as much as I can, before submitting my first draft. I felt safe about the process and hopefully those first few pages are enough to get readers, editors, and agents mouths wet, before I hit my next step of completing a query letter synopsis, etc.… also I will be attempting YouTube and balancing that out with the blog. The YouTube will be the same concept, but I will also include things I learned from conferences and writers’ retreats.
I recall my first encounter with the term beta reader and that was at the Philadelphia Writers Conference. The term popped up again at another conference that happens in November and last week was my first-time encountering beta readers. I had met a few people who’d said they’d be interested in becoming my beta reader and I blindly said yes and sure, meanwhile I’m thinking what the hell is a beta reader and let me research Las Vegas (lol). Then I concluded what it meant and I’m thinking why I would send my manuscript to someone I don’t know. A lot of hard work and time went into it and there’s a possibility that they can steal it, so again why send it? I believe I showed someone a portion of my work and there was a term that we didn’t agree on and I went back and forth with her twice, before telling myself to shut up and listen. That I feel is especially important for any artist. It’s very important especially when writing in fiction that terms as minor as they are is clear and same thing with the descriptions. As an artist you’re very protective about your work and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it, even ‘down to the last slime covered toad’-Shrek. Therefore, even though you wrote it, it’s the readers who are going to rate it.
P.S., A beta reader is someone who gives feedback on unpublished work from the perspective of an average reader to the author.