Beta reading is hard.
Beta reading is awesome.
Beta reading is something I love and hate, both having to do it and having it done to my books.
What is a beta reader? Someone who reads a work in progress with a critical eye to find plot holes, character weaknesses, typos, or whatever you want them to look for. They can be readers, editors, or other writers, it’s all up to the author to decide the type of reader and therefore, critique they want to receive. I like using a mix of readers and other writers for my betas. Why? Because writers read differently than readers do, at least I think so. Jenny Hansen had an excellent post about this some time ago. It’s worth a read ~ make sure you peruse the comments as well. Interesting stuff there.
Recently I gave my first draft to my friend Nicole to beta read and she ripped it up. I knew it wouldn’t be pretty when I started getting texts from her that began with, ‘Don’t hate me…’
The funny thing is, I could never hate Nicole ever, ever, ever. When she rips my book apart I love her even more. Why? Because everything she marked was spot on. I don’t know if I would’ve spotted the trouble spots on my own. Maybe after a few revisions, but maybe not.
Does it hurt to see her circles, dashes, and comments? You betcha. In a sick way, I welcome the pain. Of course, a shot of Godiva chocolate liqueur helps. Why do I like the marked up pages?
I fervently believe critiques we get on our work helps to make the book stronger. The caveat to this is the critiques should be of the constructive kind. I’d rather have Nicole rip apart my work before it gets published than have a cranky reviewer nail me on Amazon. At least with Nicole’s critiques I have the time to take a break, step away from the MS and think about how to fix things.
Which is what I’m doing now. Thinking, napping, napping a little more, and stewing her ideas in my mind.
After a few rounds of revisions I’ll give the book to three other Betas to get new perspectives on the work. For now though, I am totally in love with what Nicole has done for me. If any of you need an awesome Beta, I’m happy to share. Send me a message for Nicole’s email. Seriously, she’s good. A little too good.
What do you think? Do you use Beta readers? Have you ever been one? Do you prefer critique groups? Share with us! We love to know other’s processes into the creative fields.
Just for fun, here’s a little Big Bang Theory humor. I’m fairly certain I’ve said this to the Hubs at one point or another. The funny part is around the 1:05 mark.