I mentioned on Twitter yesterday that I didn’t have much time to write my blog post for today. Why? Because I was beta reading a story, and I could not put it down.
I’ve had several posts about finding beta readers or what to look for in beta readers, but I haven’t written about the experience from the other side of the computer monitor: what it’s like to be a beta reader.
Those who know me probably know I try to be generous with my offers of beta reading. And yes, part of that is my natural outreach to the writing community and being supportive of other writers.
*leans close and whispers* But a part of me offers because I’m selfish.
I’ve gotten to read some fantastic stories as a beta reader, some of them already contracted with a release date. And I’ve been able to read them long before everyone else. *resists the urge to do a “nah, nah, nah” here*
I know beta reading takes away from our writing (and everything else) time—says the woman who didn’t get to cleaning the house quite like she was planning to yesterday—but I believe it’s time well spent:
- We get to read some great stories before everyone else.
- We get to influence stories. (“Hey look, I suggested that idea! Cool.”)
- We get to build relationships with other writers.
- We get to compare how different authors approach the creative process. (Can we tell which stories were plotted in advance versus written by the seat of their pants? What about stories that used a beat structure versus an organic plot?)
- We get to explore new worlds with the author. (“Why does A work like that? What about B? Should C be a consideration?”)
- We get to become fans who help get the word out when a beloved story is finally published.
- We get to save a beta-reading credit to cash in by having someone read for us.
- We get to talk back to the author of the stories we read. (“Ack! How could you kill off so-and-so. *sob* This had better have a happy ending, or I’ll give you the stink eye.”) (Note: Yes, my beta reading comments often are that emotional, as I comment in stream-of-consciousness style so the author knows how readers react to the story.)
- We get to save on buying reading material. (Hypothetically, this could happen. I mean, sure, I have the To-Be-Read pile of scary proportions and yet I keep ordering new books, but I could theoretically cut down on those purchases and still have stories to read. *grin*)
In other words, before you decide that you don’t have time to beta read, or that you don’t know if you could be a good beta reader, stop. Think about the bigger picture for a minute and see if you might be willing to give it a try. As I mentioned in my last post, anyone with a critical eye can be a beta reader.
My house won’t fall apart just because I got sucked into a story for a day. Honestly, if we’re writers, we should love stories that much. For many of us, a genuine love of books brought us into this profession.
So I extend my congratulations to Angela Quarles for the time-travel romance that broke my schedule yesterday. (*Shh* Let her bask in that for a minute and don’t tell her I wrote 142 comments on my first pass—and I’m not done commenting yet.)
When we share the good things about stories, even if they aren’t perfect, writers know their story is worth all the effort to revise and edit. And maybe that’s the best reason to beta read:
- We get to encourage writers to make their great stories fantastic. *smile*
Have you beta read for someone before? What’s your favorite thing about beta reading? What’s your least favorite thing about beta reading? Are you able to point out the good with the bad? Do you have other items to add to the list?Pin It