By Moira Murphy, emoon author
Now that I’ve discussed the advantages of beta readers, and how great it is for writers, let’s discuss how to find beta readers. I was not going to simply stumble upon the perfect group of beta readers. Of course, it couldn’t be that simple. First, I had to create an internal checklist of qualities I’d appreciate in readers.
- They must have a love of reading, and a love of the author’s specific genre. (I learned this along the way, as I mistakenly chose a beta reader who was not a fan of fictional works. He made me cry.)
- They must understand that, while I don’t want them to be completely aggressive, I do actually need criticism. I need to know what didn’t connect in the story and what characters didn’t seem authentic.
- But, they also don’t need to crush my soul. I need constructive criticism, not to be beaten to the ground with every comma I forgot. We call it a ‘content edit’ in the publishing world. I want an edit that is not about grammar and punctuation, but about plot, characters, and flow. And as the author, you need to make that fact known to the beta readers.
- Lastly, they had to work for cheap, close to free. Which sounds greedy and mean, but I haven’t become a world-wide success, yet. I need to publish first. (It’s a joke. I’m not a narcissist. Calm down.)
So, I began my quest for proper beta readers.
I found a few beta readers from work and family friends, and I also asked two previous teachers I’d had. I expected an excited ‘yes!’ from everyone I asked. However, I did not receive these. Truth be told, I was asking a good chunk of time out of their lives to read and critique my manuscript. Hence, the bribery. I used Starbucks gift cards for a few of them, promises of signed copies of the final product for others, but for the most part those I asked were kind enough to offer their services as an effort to benefit the world of arts. They knew I was a poor starving artist, with nothing more than hope in my wallet and a pencil in hand, as most people who pursue their artistic dreams are.
While I was disappointed that I didn’t hear an adamant “of course I will take time out of my busy life to help you perfect your craft” from everyone, those that did answer were very helpful. I talked about how great beta readers were in the part one of this blog, so I won’t go into it again. However, I do want to reiterate how important this experience is for those looking to publish.
I can’t say give enough positive feedback on the benefits of beta readers… Do it. Do it. Seriously, do it. Do it.
Continue to follow Moira Murphy through eMoon in her series "Beta Readers Love Me; They Love Me Not" on 1/13/2017: What Do You Do with Beta Reader Feedback?