As I have said on my home page I intend to share my self-publishing journey with you, so I thought I would start with beta readers.
Okay, so you have written your story. After hours of writing, typing, pouring coffee down your throat and, in my case, crying while threatening to set the laptop on fire, it’s finally done. Your words are on record.
Now, what’s next?
No matter what journey you decide to take, be it traditional or self-publishing, you need to polish your work, tighten sentence structures, spot plot holes or just improve the flow.
I don’t deny there are a few random people out there who can do all this themselves and I salute them. Good for you. But for most of us mere mortals this is an impossible thing to do all on your own.
You can find an editor straight away if you wish (but finding an editor will be covered in a later post.)
A lot of publishers require this editing done before you submit and if you are going down the self-publishing route the more mistakes there are, the more money it could cost you, so what do you do?
I decided to find beta readers.
For anyone who doesn’t know, beta readers are people who will read your manuscript and give an honest opinion of what they think. They will spot plot holes, advise improvements and generally just help you make the story the best it can be.
Now, I know what you’re thinking… My Aunt Sarah read it and she already told me my work is great.
Yes, I’m sure she did… so did my best friend but lets be honest, these people know us. They are biased and even if they think your book is the biggest pile of poo ever to fall over the side of the litter tray, they won’t tell you. That’s why you need beta readers. Impartial honest people who will read your work and tell you exactly what’s wrong with it.
I’m not saying it will be easy. Sometimes hearing how you made a total mess of your main character and your hero sounds like he’s two sandwiches short of a picnic can be really hard. But we need to be told these things. It’s really easy to forget that our readers don’t know our characters as well as we do.
So where do we find these people who will bestow us with their wonderful words of wisdom? (This is genuinely not sarcasm… I’ve learnt so much from my beta’s)
Well, there are many people on the internet offering this service for a price. And that’s great… if you can afford it.
I myself am a lowly shop assistant, housewife and mother of two. I can’t afford to pay beta readers and an editor and to publish my book. Something had to give, so I needed free beta readers.
I thought I’d share with you the three places I’ve found to get beta readers.
- http://www.betareadershub.tumblr.com Everyone has heard of Tumblr. Though I will confess I myself don’t get along with it very well. Maybe I’m just too old to learn to navigate yet another social media site but if you are a Tumblr addict, here is somewhere for you
- http://www.goodreads.com/group/show/50920-beta-reader-group This group I do use. I only recently started interacting on Goodreads but I’ve found myself thoroughly enjoying it. I found quite a few good beta readers on this site.
- http://www.facebook.com/groups/theslushpile saving the best for last, this is my Facebook beta group. I was lucky enough to be introduced to this group by another author and I’m so glad I was. They are so friendly here and genuinely want to help. I met some great beta readers and some great friends here.
So that’s my advice on where to find beta readers. As I said, hearing their criticism won’t always be easy but, I promise, it’s worth it. Obviously, there are always some people who will take your work for a free read and not get back to you, but those people are few and far between. On the whole, I’ve found beta readers to be invaluable in my journey. There is no way of knowing what’s missing in your story until you’ve read it through someone else’s eyes.