Beta Readers

Those people who get to read the unadulterated, first draft, grammatical nightmare that you call a story are no longer called friends or buddies or, dare I say, chums. No, these people are now Beta Readers, like Beta testers in the computer world. There is little reward for this task except maybe a small thank you on the inside cover of the book but they do get to have an influence over the writer of a book. I'm sure there's been more than a few over the years who've told a friend, "I told her to write that line." or "That scene was my idea." And a little bit of vicarious living never hurt anybody...I hope.

Where do you find these hard-working and noble Beta Readers, those select few who are both smart enough to give you useful comment and available enough to spend some time on your new WIP? Well, usually it's friends. Sometimes close friends whose opinions you've grown to respect...or at least put up with. It's a huge ask but some of them will gladly delve into it for you if for no other reason than to pick apart your dream and dance on it as only a friend can. It is a lot to ask though, and friends are busy with their own lives. It can't be expected, just hoped for. You can join local writing groups and Twitter and Facebook looking for volunteers but usually these are people you don't know and worse, don't know you. How do they know what you mean, what you're tying to say? How can they possibly 'grok' your writing?

In most cases you have to develop an online friendship like any other and really just take a leap of faith. The major benefit of new friends and Beta Readers is that, by not knowing you so well, they're not so invested in protecting your feelings when they suggest you cull clumsy sentences. Occasionally, you need to hear that something you've written sucks and believe me, it's tough to hear that not everything that flows from your fingertips is golden.

Some people are just jackasses so its important you weed them out of your Beta Reader group but, there's a lot of valuable help out there if you reach out for it and offer up your own services in return - make it a mutual beneficial thing.

I have an Andrew. He's a lot smarter than me and he's been my friend for more than twenty five years. He's been extremely helpful to me in the past but it's unfair of me to ask him to be my book fixing slave forever. So, I intend to slowly get the courage to ask others to help me and see if it can move me along more efficiently with my writing. And maybe this will take the pressure off my friend who never really signed up to be a Beta Reader, he just kind of got nominated.

So, good luck with your writing and I hope you find someone to help you along the way as I did. Just remember this little nugget:

Opinions are like assholes, everybody's got one.



  1. My beta readers have been my friends for more than fifteen years now, and I wouldn't trade them for anything. No one else could tell me that I was about to walk out the door with my ass hanging out and make it sound like a compliment.

  2. I need an Andrew. Do you have an extra? I'm seriously excited about beta'ing! Also hope grok is good and that I'm not an jackass that needs to be weeded. LOL!

  3. @ Mari - Nothing worse than walking out into the world with your ass hanging out so, I salute your friends for both looking out for you and for doing it in such a way that you felt good about it. lol.

    @ Valerie - I don't have an extra Andrew I'm afraid. There's not much left of the one I have. He's a little worn around the edges and some stuffing sticking out of a hole in his side and we had to swap one of his eyes for a button...but I think there's life in him yet. And no, you're not a jackass to be weeded...quite the opposite in fact...I was wondering if you wouldn't mind if I started calling you Andrew *cue sinister music*

    okay maybe not.


  4. Just wanted to check and make sure you were over the zombie flu. Hope it didn't eat any brains or if it did it was your coworker and not you. ;)

    My beta reader is my hubby. He plays video games while I read it to him. Lol! Nah, seriously, he's the best, guess I'll keep him. After 27 years I'd better, eh?


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