So You Want To Be A Beta Reader

The following article was posted last year on the Indie Chicks Rock website, but there is a lot of valuable information that it’s worth repeating here. So if you’re a casual reader who has ever wanted to be a beta reader for an author you love, spend some time checking this out!

One of the most crucial parts of the writing process comes with beta reading. For authors, it’s anxiety-ridden. For the reader it’s exciting to get to read an early draft of a manuscript. And when beta reading is done well, it can be a lot of work.

All of us Indie Chicks have had our fair share of awesome beta readers … and unfortunately some not some awesome ones, too. So we wanted to share some candid thoughts with you on beta best practices. Oh hell, that sounds so corporate … let’s try that again…

So we wanted to share some candid thoughts with you on how you can avoid being a crappy beta reader and become an author’s best friend. 😉 Because let’s be honest … if you beta our book and really help us out, we’ll be begging to work with you again.

That’s much better. Let’s begin, shall we?

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/exhale.

This weekend I put on my big girl panties and did the unthinkable.

I sent my full manuscript (minus the epilogue) to a complete stranger for a meal. And it terrifies me to know that she is probably sitting on her couch up in Canada right now…chewing on my words…savoring them (perhaps?)…and quite possibly even spitting them out in disgust. I understand that this is a crucial part of the process and all writers who have come before me have done it…it just doesn’t make it any easier.

I mean…what if this manuscript truly is crap? It’s the main reason why I haven’t let my husband or mom or family read through it. I could serve them a steaming pile of dog shit and they would probably tell me it was the most beautiful thing they had ever smelled. I love my cheerleaders and have needed them over the past few months; but I also love my critical, candor-driven, plot-line chewing, make me so nervous I want to vomit pre-editor betas. I know their honest feedback could hurt, I just hope it doesn’t hurt too much.

Knowing the roughest, ugliest version is under a microscope is enough to make anyone mad. But I have faith that she (and my other Beta readers who are in the process of receiving my little baby) will make my story the best possible version of itself.

I’m tough enough to handle this, right?

I’ve got a few days to convince myself that I am…because in a few days, I’ll start getting feedback.

/exhale.