Curse of the Beta Reader

I’ve recently offered myself up on Twitter as a beta reader, and it hasn’t quite been what I was hoping.

My experience with betas has been as a writer – from relatives to readers in my novels’ demographic – and also had the opportunity to work with a pro editor on three novels. I’ve made tons of mistakes and learned a great deal. It was time to give back.

Three authors came forward: two were new writers, and the third had already published something else. I was excited to offer my knowledge and set to read.

My first mistake was to not spell out exactly what my beta read would involve. You see, when I was first writing, I had a lot of people tell me what I wrote was good even when it wasn’t. What I needed was a good sit down with a Big Sister Writer with some hard truths, which is what I finally got in my editor, Jessica. 

That’s what you get with me. An experienced author and amateur editor But, I’m not going to sugarcoat it, Petal. I won’t blow smoke because in the end, that does YOU no favors. If something doesn’t work, if I don’t understand something, if the sentence structure, or grammar or what-have-you isn’t working, I’m going to tell you. Nicely. I’ll even leave little funny comments that I hope makes you laugh. 

My only motivation is to help you make your novel the best it can be, because I don’t want another self published author to make the same mistakes I did. 

What YOU, the self-pub author, need to bring to the table is the ability to accept a constructive critique. If you can’t, then you’re not ready. While what I tell you isn’t going to be much different than an editor, you should still hire the best editor you can afford. 

At this point, I’m only working with one author out of the three. One isn’t quite ready to hand over her manuscript, while the other has since blocked me on Twitter.  

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