Today we’re beginning our beta reader series. Episode 1 will focus on what beta readers are, what they do, and how they’re different from alpha readers, critique partners, and editors.
What is a beta reader?
A beta reader is someone that reads your manuscript before publication, before any professional edits, and preferably after you’ve done at least one self-edit. Their purpose is to give you feedback on big picture things—do your characters come across as you intend? Does your worldbuilding make sense? Are there glaring plot holes? Did they get bored and stop reading? etc.
A beta reader is NOT an editor. They are readers.
You should not be relying on them for line edits or copy edits unless that is something they specifically offer to you.
I see a lot of people expecting a lot more from their betas than the job entails and it’s important to remember that everyone has their place in the book production process. If what you’re really looking for is an editor or a proofreader, then you’d be better off hiring a professional for that unless someone steps forward and offers you those services as a beta reader.
Editing skills are a) not something everyone has, and b) not something everyone wants to provide for free. It’s not reasonable to expect every beta reader to be your editor.
Are Betas Different From Alpha Readers And Critique Partners?
Yes, but a lot of people use the terms interchangeably and aren’t aware of any differences.
Beta readers typically receive a completed manuscript that has undergone some level of polishing. They’ll be giving feedback on the whole picture of the story.
Alpha readers will be reading your first draft as you write it and provide feedback as you go. Their feedback will be more focused around initial reactions to events. They may or may not know where the story is going, depending on what you tell them, and they can help you write the story with a little more intention because you’re seeing the feedback as it comes into existence. Not all writers have a process that jives with alpha readers, so you’ll have to decide for yourself if you want eyeballs while you’re writing or not.
Critique partners can read at any phase of the process prior to the professional edit. CPs are other writers or writing-adjacent professionals. Their feedback will be more about technique and craft, as well as opinions on characters, worldbuilding, etc. When I’ve worked with critique partners they’ve both read as I’ve written and read a finished first draft, and as someone that does professional critiques, I’ve read for people at all stages. Depending on what phase you’re getting a critique done you’ll need different things from them, and may work through developmental, line, and copy edits.
For a lot of erotica authors that do rapid release, the process has very tight timelines and sometimes little feedback prior to publication, so the chances of all three types of readers being present on a project are slim. If you have time to invest in a project, then getting as many of these readers on board as possible will help your story.
Why are beta readers important?
I will always tell people that a good beta reader is worth their weight in gold. Beta readers help your story grow by providing feedback from the reader perspective. They help your characters develop, help your world make sense, help shore up your plot holes that you couldn’t see because you’re too close to the project. Just like you have beta testing for games and apps to find out what the bugs are, so too should you have beta readers for your story so your book doesn’t go out into the world with glaring issues.
Beta readers are not a magic perfect button, but they are a valuable tool in your arsenal as a creator. Not all beta readers are equally helpful or equally reliable, and it can take time to build up a team that is best suited to you, your stories, and your process, but it is so worth it. We’ll be talking soon about how to build your beta team in the next episode.
That’s all for now. You can find all of my books and platforms below. If you have questions or suggestions for future episodes, please do let me know. Thank you so much for reading and I’ll see you soon for another episode!
First Heat Series – m/f, 3rd person POV
First Heat: https://books2read.com/FirstHeat
First Heat: Second Chances: https://books2read.com/FHSC
First Heat: Tying The Knot: https://books2read.com/FirstHeatTTK
Heat Play Love – m/m/m, 3rd person POV https://books2read.com/HeatPlayLove
Conference Confidential – m/f, 3rd person POV https://books2read.com/ConferenceConfidential
2021 Omegaverse Collection – contains First Heat, First Heat: Second Chances, Heat Play Love, Conference Confidential, and 2 bonus shorts https://books2read.com/OV2021
Nicky and the Night Owls: Part One – polyamorous (m/f/nb/f/nb/m), multi 1st person POV https://books2read.com/NickyNightOwls
Nicky and the Night Owls: Part Two – polyamorous (m/f/nb/f/nb/m), multi 1st person POV – currently on preorder https://books2read.com/NickyNightOwls2
Knotty or Nice Christmas Anthology – (my story is based on Nicky and the Pack) – currently on preorder https://books2read.com/knotty-or-nice
Salacious Salvation – m/f, 3rd person POV https://books2read.com/SalaciousSalvation
Playtime with Professor – m/f, 3rd person POV https://books2read.com/PlaytimeWithProfessor
PARANORMAL Into The Depths – f/nb, 3rd person POV https://books2read.com/intothedepths
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