Photo credit: Bunches and Bits {Karina} via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Becoming a Beta Reader

Photo credit: Bunches and Bits {Karina} via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND
Photo credit: Bunches and Bits {Karina} via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND
Author Dan Alatorre
Author Dan Alatorre

I was invited to beta read by author, Dan Alatorre, for his upcoming book, The Navigators. This book is about a group of archeologists who stumble upon a time machine buried deep beneath the ground at a mine in central Florida. Relationships are tested. People get hurt. Questions are answered about what happens when something of such value is discovered by the masses. In this fast-paced read, Dan doesn’t let his reader’s minds wander. He keeps us running from one scene to the next, trying to help the character’s figure out the best way to turn.

This was my very first time beta reading for a fellow writer. With little time, I wasn’t sure that I should take on such a task. If I don’t finish one of my own projects, I have only myself to let down. Agreeing to beta read, means you have someone else counting on you to do what you’ve signed up to do.

For those of you that don’t know, beta reading happens at the point in the process where the writer has polished the manuscript and is just about ready to submit the work for publishing. Whether they are looking to find an agent, or are self publishing, beta readers can help a writer to see the last few things that may have been missed during editing: typos that went unseen, weird formatting issues, and a feel for general enjoyment of the book to name a few.

"The Navigators" by Dan Alatorre
“The Navigators” by Dan Alatorre

At the beta reading stage, writers have already sent the manuscript through their critique groups and have, no doubt, worked out many of the issues that were originally in the earlier drafts of the book. Now, you as the reader, should just be able to read for enjoyment purposes from start to finish.

If anything stops you along the way (i.e. the things I’ve mentioned above), that is what the writer wants to know about. If you are querying your manuscript, no doubt it will be seen and edited at least another time or two so the last few spelling errors or issues will be caught, but if you are self publishing, this is it.

Every period needs to be at the end of every sentence. All I’s must be dotted and T’s must be crossed. This is when accuracy and flow of the story matters most.

As a writer, beta reading is a great way to allow your readers to help you bring your story to fruition. They want to see you succeed and make your book even better. They are your pre-readers.

If you haven’t been a beta reader before, I highly recommend it. If you are a writer, this is a great way to network. Working with other authors can only help get your name out there. If you help them, they’ll want to help you when the time comes for your own books to be ready for publication.

This is a business where it helps to band together.

Writing may be a task done in solitude, but everything that surrounds it and comes after that first draft, is best done with a little encouragement.

Have you ever beta read for an author before? What was your experience beta reading? Would you recommend it?

If you didn’t get a chance to watch my interview with Dan Alatorre about his amazing YouTube show, “Writers Off Task With Friends”, click on the link above and take a look. Along with his co-hosts J.A. Allen and Allison Maruska, this is a show every writer should watch. Not to mention, my GIVEAWAY which is still going on, is in the same post at the end. Come by and don’t forget to enter in to win this little guy below!

GIVEAWAY PRIZE: Floppy Cat (Handmade by J.H. Winter)
GIVEAWAY PRIZE: Floppy Cat (Handmade by J.H. Winter)

6 thoughts on “Becoming a Beta Reader”

  1. I can definitely see where beta readers would be incredibly helpful to an author. It must be fun to give feedback and input as the writer does their final cleanup/edits although I’m sure there’s a bit of pressure too. Congrats on your first time as a beta reader.

    1. Thank you, Karen! There is definitely a bit of pressure. I wanted to make sure I did a great job by catching the things that Dan would be frustrated to find later. It all worked out really well, and I look forward to being a beta reader again!

    1. You are so very welcome, Dan! I’m glad you enjoyed my notes and found value in them! I look forward to working together in the future. My “Writers Off Task With Friends” interview will be coming up in July and I look forward to getting to virtually meeting you, Jenny, and Allison as well!

  2. Beta reading is an important part of my writing. Right now, I have 2 really good ones, and have had other good ones in the past too, but our lives ended up causing us to not be able to work together anymore. There always gets a point where I feel like I can’t do anymore and I need new eyes on it.

    1. I didn’t realize how wonderful beta readers can be! I plan to have beta readers take a look at my second book once I finish the edits. It is a great way to get people who aren’t as worried about hurting your feelings to take a look and give honest feedback.

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