The importance of a beta reader – by Bob Rich
What does a beta reader do?
When I’ve finished writing a book, I am emotionally involved with it. I’ve made it as good as I could — in my opinion. It’s certain that there are faults and problems, ways it should be improved — but I can’t find them. I need the independent opinion of readers who are willing to tell me what’s wrong with it. These people need not themselves be writers, or editors, or publishing professionals, although such background does make it more likely that they can make specific recommendations for improvement. Any intelligent person who enjoys a book of this kind can make a significant input. A beta reader needs to keep certain questions in mind while reading. Here is a list I’ve sent out from time to time, generalised a little to suit a wide range of fiction works:
- -Is it a good read? Please pinpoint any places where your involvement flagged, and it was a chore to read on.
- -Did you get puzzled by anything, lost anywhere? Did you encounter a name and had to think who that was?
- -Did my created reality break down anywhere?
- This may be a sequel, and you haven’t read what went before it. Did the back story give you trouble at any time? Or, if you’ve read the previous, does this follow seamlessly, — without undue repetition?
- -If the book is part of a series, does it end in a way that makes it a complete story in its own right? Does the ending want you to continue, or does it frustrate you?
- -Do you have any other suggestions for changes and improvements?
- -Of course, if you pick up any technical errors, that’s great too, but a line edit is too early at this stage.
Here is another list that may help:
- -Is the created reality sufficiently vivid to get the reader in?
- -Are the characters rounded, 3D, and distinct from each other? Have they faults and likable characteristics, and do they become temporary members of the reader’s family?
- -Any happenings that are unrealistic, given the created reality of the story?
- -Any plot glitches?
- -Does the lead-in act as a hook?
- -Are there flat spots when tension goes?
- -Is the reader’s emotional involvement stimulated?
- -Does the ending feel like a suitable end, while leading into the sequel?
- -After the first book, would a new reader who starts with this volume be able to get into the story, characters, reality?
- -At the same time, is there undue repetition for someone who had recently read the previous volume?
Naturally, a nonfiction book would need a different set of questions. Successful writers like Anna Jacobs have their set group of beta readers who eagerly await the free read of her next story. My method has been to invite exchanges with other writers: beta reading of my book for yours, or for a review, or even for an edit (which is much more work than an opinion). Whether you are a writer/editor or not, whether you require a return service or not, I’ll be very happy to have you on my list of beta readers. Please email me if you are interested.
Finally, if you would love to hear more about Bob Rich, then make sure to check his Blog and books! Additionally, anyone who chooses to follow his blog, Bobbing Around, has the opportunity of getting a free book from time to time. Also, make sure to check out his latest book, Maraglindi: Guardian Spirit, published through our publishing company. You can also find a copy internationally through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Waterstones, Booktopia and many more…
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