Look! A bonus blog for you! (Remember, I said I wasn’t planning anything until June 20, and anything before then was a bonus.)
I wanted to go briefly into beta reading today. As a writer and a reader, I hear a lot about beta reading. For those of you who don’t, a beta reader is essentially this: someone who reads a manuscript pre-publication but post-editing. The chief point of a beta reader is to be the last line of defense between the unfinished book and the public. Not to worry about grammar or punctuation; that’s what the actual editors are for. Also not to worry (too much) about making sure the author’s word choice is perfect, or to nit-pick teeny details about setting or plot.
A good beta reader, while catching small things, is really there for the bigger picture. What impressions does the book/character leave with you? Are there any inconsistencies between book #1 and book #2 in a series? When the author changed a character name, did any instances of the old name get left behind by mistake? Big things like that.
And I love doing it.
Let me say right up front that it’s not for everyone. Some people don’t read fast enough, or with enough of an eye to detail. Some people don’t want to analyze what they read; they just want to enjoy it. And some people will analyze TOO much, and give the author more information than is useful at this stage. (Remember, the manuscript has already gone through the writing, re-writing, and editing stages. This is one of the final steps before it leaves the author’s hands.)
I have beta read for several authors now, and it’s a different process with each. Some want a higher level of feedback, while others just want the overall impression. But it’s fun whatever the case. It’s a rush getting a book specially delivered to you before the rest of the world knows much about it. It’s fun to see your name with the thank-you credit to the betas, or to receive a thank-you on a blog.
But most of all, it’s wonderful to read a section of the finished novel, and see something that you helped correct, and know that the book is all the more polished thanks to you. This is the closest I have gotten (as yet) to publication myself, and it’s a great feeling to know that I have helped make fiction a better place.