I’m currently going through the process of having beta readers comment on the first draft of my latest novel and thought I’d share some of the thoughts and feelings about the process. First of all, it’s a leap of faith to allow the book out of my hands. When nobody else has read it, it remains a work of genius that offers scintillating insights to life and will instantly become a best-seller. But I know in my heart that’s not true, and my chosen readers are going to discover that as soon as they read page one. This is where beta readers are so important and it pays to select them carefully.
A poor beta reader is like a friend who tells you ‘You look fine, really. That dress is a lovely colour.’
A good beta reader might say ‘don’t wear that when you go out – it makes you look a bit chubby. Wear the red dress instead, it hides the fat rolls.’
But a really good beta reader is like a plastic surgeon. She will point out faults and make suggestions about how to fix them. She will tell you that your breasts could look firmer while drawing pen lines to show where tucks and lifts will improve the profile. She will know where liposuction will give the most benefit, and how much collagen to inject to add shape. Yes, she tells you things are wrong, but she offers ways to fix them. In the end, you are empowered to present your best face / book to the world once the faults have been rectified.
I’m learning that it takes quite a few people to make a book better. Now I understand how some authors have an acknowledgement list two pages long of people who helped with their novel.
Big thanks to my current readers - your advice is invaluable!