View Full Version : Question about beta readers?

07-02-2010, 09:25 AM
I have a few questions about Beta readers. I've heard about them a few times in the forums, and I know that there is also a forum for them. But what exactly does a beta reader do, and how and when would you use them?

Thanks BB. :):):)

07-02-2010, 10:33 AM
A beta reader can offer help and suggestions with regards to a finished work. It is not their job to edit or proof read, but to offer a second set of eyes that can point out things like, plot holes, difficulty with continuity, and give suggestions on style and plot more generally.

At least, that is the impression that I get from what I have read on AW and elsewhere :)

07-02-2010, 05:22 PM
To my way of thinking, a beta reader does whatever he/she and the writer agree the beta will do. Some betas edit and proof read. Others don't. Some betas give comments on the most minute details, while others are strictly big picture commentators. I typically have two sets of betas. The first set to read an earlier draft and point out glaring problems with the plot, character development, and the story's premise. Many drafts later, after the big problems have been solved and the book is much more polished, I have another set of beta readers to look at more subtle elements such as style and narrative tone.

Basically, you take what you're looking for out of a reader and try to mesh up with what any given reader is willing to provide you. That's what a beta reader does.

07-02-2010, 06:09 PM
Beta readers. Their price is above rubies!

My beta readers will let me know about spelling errors or missing or incorrect words. I have a terrible habit of typing fro rather than for. No matter how many times I read it I still see for when I've actually typed fro.

Beyond that my betas check for accuracy. If I've got 4 people getting into a taxi I'd better not have six get out! A beta can/will let me know if my tempo is off. Sometimes I'll put in a comma that, while grammatically correct, slows the action too much. They make suggestions as to phrase placing. I had a beta suggest I move a paragraph into another chapter so it would be closer to the action. It worked!

I always have at least 5 betas (8 is better) whom I do not know. In general, they prefer to read what I write. I wouldn't ask a reader who feasts on fantasy to read a book on the 15th century papacy, although sometimes that outfit reads like fantasy!

My betas keep me humble. A trait I'm very proud of. lol