I recently received a first draft of a manuscript from one of my clients. She’d been promising it to me for a little while and kept giving me updates about her beta readers weighing in on the material before she shared it with me. I was encouraged by this news because it tells me that she has taken the time to not only complete the entire manuscript, but get feedback on it from readers who she presumably trusts and make revisions accordingly.
It also tells me that she is focused on delivering to me a draft that is in good shape, has been read and re-read, and has been edited or revised to make it as complete and ready-to-go as possible. I often work with my authors to develop projects from idea stage to publication, so don’t assume this means you have to send me a manuscript that’s been copyedited and is ready to go into production! But with the market being so difficult, I really appreciate this time and effort spent to deliver a clean manuscript so I can focus on the larger issues of plot and character development rather than fine tuning more benign early draft issues.
So it was with interest after getting the manuscript this week (which I’ve not yet had a chance to read, but plan to very soon!) that I found this article on the topic of beta readers that I thought was worth sharing with our blog readers.
It gives the basics of what a beta reader is, and how you might look for your own group of beta readers as you develop your novel. I think it’s important, as the author Joe Moore notes, to seek out readers who understand and can relate to your category. If you’ve only written thrillers and your new book is a YA, then it’s probably best to find additional readers who know that category and can give you feedback that is specific to your intended audience.
I’d love to know if you use beta readers, and how you go about this process. How do you find your beta readers? Do you find it helps your work, and do you wait to share your first draft with agents or publishers until you’ve heard from all your beta readers and made any suggested changes? Let us know if you are a fan of the beta!