At some point in your writing life, you’ve probably asked yourself “Why do I need a beta reader?” We writers are a little bit precious when it comes to our work. We fuss and tweak and obsess over our writing, revising and adjusting the same chapters and paragraphs again and again until the words become a blur on the page.
Eventually we arrive at a point where we’ve done everything we know how to do with our manuscript or our short story. What happens next can make the difference between work that’s ready to send out with a query or something that remains in our hard drive for all eternity.
Writers need beta readers and they usually need at least three. A beta reader is a new set of eyes on your manuscript or short story. Friends, family, writer colleagues – these are all the usual sources for good beta reading, but sometimes these sources fall short. Maybe they are worried about hurting your feelings, so their criticism isn’t as frank as it should be. Maybe they have no idea how to begin to critique a piece – they know how to enjoy reading, but they can’t articulate what works and what doesn’t. Maybe they get bogged down by their own busy lives and hang on to your manuscript for way too long, putting you in the awkward position of having to nag them.
Keep your expectations real when you search for your beta readers. Choose a diverse selection of readers so you’re guaranteed to get a return from at least half of them. In fact, why not consider hiring a professional beta reader so that you know your work will be returned promptly with feedback you can trust?