B is for Beta Readers; those oh so important people who help a writer or an author by reading and critiquing the first or second draft. Beta readers aren’t editors but they do help with the edit. These brave souls are the first wave of fresh eyes that help find typos, continuity errors, and plot holes.
With my first novel, my Beta Readers were friends and family members. I gave them each a print copy of my manuscript and a questionnaire to be filled out as they read or upon completion. Very few filled out the questionnaire and fewer still had any criticism. I would like to think it was because I had done such a great job of self-editing. Mostly it was because they love me and didn’t want to criticize. They did point out typos and glaring questions in the plot. My most helpful Beta Reader turned out to be my 14 year old niece who not only completed the questionnaire but also slipped in an additional page of questions and comments. She took the assignment seriously.
My advice to those seeking Beta Readers is to find people in and out of your inner circle. Friends and family can be helpful but often lack objectivity. (My mother found no flaws in the beta copy.) Colleagues and other writers can show objectivity and offer more informed advice. Writing is a solitary endeavor, up to a point. There comes the time when you must allow someone to read your work and offer constructive criticism. Fresh eyes will notice things your familiarity has caused you to overlook time and time again. Enjoy the process. B is for Beta Readers. #atozchallenge