Hello! It is time to stop polishing and seek for second sets of eyes. The writing and reading communities are delightfully weird and supportive that there are people who like and are willing beta readers. That is so wonderful as I think books are a communal effort. They might be typed down by one person with a typewriter, but the finished product isn’t a book without readers, editors, cover artists, publishers, agents, and beta readers. It demands a variety of expertise. Also as a writer, it is easy to get blind for your own text.
With my first book, I made a mistake of only getting friends to beta read it. As helpful they were, it isn’t the same as getting feedback from the readers who enjoy your genre. They are the target audience. They know what they like, what works, what makes a book great, and what doesn’t speak to them. However, here I have to point out that while they are spot on with their criticism, saying things like this part doesn’t work, I’m confused, this character feels unreal, they are not the ones to fix it. They might give you suggestions, but as a writer, you know what is best for the book and what makes the story work. This is not a statement I have come up with. This is something that Neil Gaiman said, and it stuck with me. But you need beta readers to point out the flaws of the story, plot, setting, characters, pacing, style and so on. They are the experts on that. You need that. I need that. Because as a writer you miss stuff. Your brain fills in the missing details and has a vivid picture of the characters and the setting.
How many beta readers? I have heard that three to five would be ideal. If more, you might get swamped, and if less, then it is just one person stating their opinion. But as with everything, I would get extra readers as not everyone always delivers. The world is full of mishaps. We can’t control everything. The reader might get sick. They might get called for a long work trip or get overwhelmed with their life. That is life for you. Again and again, I have seen this while leading groups.
How to work with beta readers? Be kind! They are doing this amazing and huge favor for you for free even when they don’t have to. They own you now on. Maybe not. Then again who am I to say what kind of deals to make. After being nice, be clear what you want and set a date when they need to be finished. (Again not everyone will deliver.) Without a set date, you will be waiting for them until next Christmas. But no one can read your book in one day or a week, give time.
Where to look for beta readers? Goodreads has a beta reader group. I posted there a request and got a reply and a beta reader. I posted a comment on Twitter, but it hasn’t delivered yet despite getting some attention. I will post my sells pitch for you at the end of this post to see if anyone of you want to help me out to make a book. Reddit is also one place. There is a Fantasy Writers community. Other social media like Facebook writing and reading groups. Forums. But be active in those groups before going asking favors. If not, it comes across rude and arrogant.
One more thing, keep track of those who you have sent your book. Maybe make a document with contact info, when you sent the book and any additional information you see necessary. And be careful who you give your book. It is your product. So put your name on every page, make watermarks to your file, change a few words for every reader you have sent the book so you can see who might have leaked or copied it. Put dates and so on.
And now my call to action! Would you be my beta reader? I promise to be nice, and you would get to read something funny.
It is a comic fantasy novel, 121 000 words (around 433 pages, Palatino Linotype point 12.)
The book is written from multiple points of views, but the main character is Petula Upwood a necromancer swept into the city’s power play. Necropolis is experiencing an economic downturn, causing the political parties (undead vs. living,) the Mayor, and the bankers clash with each other, and then there are the ghouls. Who thought to invite them into the party? Petula is a reluctant hero. She just wants to go home and read a book, but no, she has to lay rest those who should have stayed buried while figuring out how to stay alive.
I’m looking for someone with a fresh set of eyes to look at things like plot and character development, setting, readability and give me feedback if the humorous elements work for them. If you are interested in the novel, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you in advance!