You’ve written a great story, right? You’ve gone through the editing process and you’ve broken down your story and put it back together. You’ve written something so amazing one that it will soar through the stars and excel (excuse my dramatic self)
Obviously you have written a great story according to your standards as an author. Then you passed it on to an editor/(s) to cut it down and build it back up again.
The thing is, it doesn’t matter how critical you are on yourself and how much you aspire for perfection — you won’t be able to find those secret corners of your manuscript that will turn a reader with the ultimate self control into an junkie for YOUR words.
And that’s where beta readers come into play…..
When I published my first book, if someone said the words “beta reader” to me, I would’ve looked at them like they were mad — ‘why you making up words?’
But a year and half later, I’m recruiting beta readers for my Christmas novella. Beta readers read through your manuscript after it’s been through all the stages of editing. They read the manuscript before it is published just to give some thoughts on the story from a readers point of view.
They are essential because as an author, the story is your baby and there are only so many ways you would be willing to be strict with it. Then your editor would be looking at it like the aunt asked to care for the child — so yeah they may be stricter but there’s a sense of familiarity.
A beta reader is like that one person in the park who sees your child doing something wrong and isn’t afraid to tell you. Yeah sometimes we don’t like that person because we think we’ve done a good job on our own but usually, they are right.
Enough with the family analysis — a beta reader helps tell you what your readers would think. They help to pick up on final areas for clarity and or reorganisation.
When I wrote my Christmas novella, I felt it was a good story — great even (dare I say). But when it came back from beta readers, I knew what I had wasn’t a diamond yet. They pointed out things that I wouldn’t have seen even if I was wearing my reading glasses. They pointed out phrases that maybe weren’t clear or maybe needed a little more explanation.
By the time I finished editing with their recommendations and my editor saw my work, I knew at that time that I had an amazing piece of work. On publication day, my book made it to TOP ten on Apple Books for Fiction and Literature. So, don’t take my word for it, stats speak for themselves.
Thanks for reading.
This post is part of a series I’m starting called Ten Things I learnt from self publishing.