When I posted a notice in my ezine asking for volunteers to be beta readers for my new book, “How to Write Your Book in a Flash: The paint-by-numbers system for writing the book of your dreams FAST!” I was thrilled to have 10 people respond! Upon further reflection, I was surprised that 10 people actually knew what a beta reader is!
If you are writing a book, or plan to write a book, you’ll want to read this brief introduction to beta readers.
Beta readers are volunteers who read a draft of a book and give their honest feedback on what works, what doesn’t work and what is missing. They are not copy editors and they aren’t looking for typos. When I wrote books for Wiley, my editors suggested I send the books to experts for “peer review.” Instead of peers, I’m sending my book to people who are my target readers – people who want to write books.
Beta readers provide an invaluable service to authors because they offer unique perspectives the author doesn’t have. The author, after all, isn’t the target reader. The author knows it all – or seeks to find it. The reader, on the other hand, wants to learn and have their questions answered. If they don’t understand something, they will highlight that flaw in your manuscript.
For example, the author might assume that everyone knows terms like plagiarism, call-outs and forewords. I realized that I needed to define every term because people might not know the most rudimentary terms.
In the process, I learned too. For example, a foreword (not forward) is written by an outside expert while a preface is written by the author.
While the majority of my book shows how to write a book quickly, editing and revising a book is part of the writing process. Therefore, my book includes a section on how authors can find beta readers and how to work with them. After all, readers need to know what info you want from them. My book also provides sample letters and forms covering the care and feeding of beta readers.
I hope this information helps you write better books!
BTW, I’m humbled and relieved that the feedback I’m getting from my beta readers is VERY positive. They love the book – and they are finding items that they love – and items that need work. They saved my neck! They found dozens of typos. I’m back to editing and writing. S
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