Everyone comes to the point where they can’t find another error in their book, but it doesn’t feel ready to publish. That’s where betas come in.
Finding Beta readers can be a pain- you have to find multiple people in different age groups, with different backgrounds and beliefs in order to get a wide range of reviews and critiques.
However, sometimes those beta readers won’t come back to you. They’ll leave you floundering at midnight in a panic, wondering what you’re going to do with just a few weeks till edits with the professional editor starts.
That’s when you pull plan B- Emergency Beta Readers. Most authors don’t have a platform of other writers and readers to fall back on. I got lucky with TAJ, as it has a well built, supportive community, full of awesome people.
But many people don’t. So, if you get the chance to beta, think through this list first:
- Will I have time to read and respond to the questions?
- Can I put away my own bias?
- Can I be supportive while stating errors in the book?
If you can’t do these things, you shouldn’t beta read. But, shouldn’t doesn’t mean couldn’t, my dears.
Here’s another thing: If you’re beta reading, and don’t like what you’re reading, stop reading. You heard me. If you disagree with the ideas, if you don’t like the language, if it’s too high of a reading level, if you don’t like the genre, stop reading. Just stop. Tell the author why you won’t continue. Don’t apologize. It’s not your fault. I don’t like John Green’s writing style, but that doesn’t mean he’s a bad author, or that his books suck. It’s preference. As long as you tell the author why, you’re helping them. You’re helping them narrow down a genre, an age group, a target audience.
I’ve had a beta come to me recently, and say they couldn’t continue reading due to the language used in the novel. And that was fine. They told me another thing I needed to know- what audience I was leaning towards. I was debating a middle to high school age group, but when they told me they didn’t feel comfortable reading the curse words, I bumped it to a YA rating. And that’s perfectly fine. Actually, it was very helpful. Another beta reader mentioned the cursing, not that they minded, but that they didn’t realize one character wasn’t cursing. That made me aware that the cursing was leaning towards excessive still. So I’m working to drop it further, and that’s okay.
Betas, you’re there to give your opinion. If you’re not being outrageous negative, and are giving a few positives, then you’re fine. If the author can’t handle it, they aren’t ready for publishing. Authors need to have a thick skin to make it out there. You can’t kill the internet to stop bad reviews or to suffocate the opinions of your readers. Some books will flop, and that’s fine. Because a flop is just another stepping stone to success.
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