The Importance Of Beta Readers

Michael Wisehart

3 July 2016

I am a firm believer in the use of Beta Readers.

Even in the short time that I’ve been writing, I have met a number of authors who have never availed themselves to the benefits a team of enthusiastic readers can produce. They are one of an author’s greatest unspoken resources, in my opinion. My book “The White Tower” would not be half of what it is today had it not been for the time and dedication my Beta Readers put in to helping me shape the story into something readable.

Many authors don’t like the idea of having readers with no writing experience pick apart their work. My thoughts are these: It is those very readers who I am aiming to please. I want readers to enjoy my books. I want readers hungry to devour everything I put out there. Of course, writing is art, so first and foremost I want to make sure that I am pleased with the work, but second to that is those fantasy fans who are longing for another entertaining series to get swept up in.

Another sad commentary I have seen from authors is to simply hand there manuscripts out to their closest friends and family in hopes of garnering enough feedback to allow them to make a few minor adjustments before sending off to the editor. Now there are exceptions to every rule, but for the most part what I have seen is that many times your closest friends and family are going to give you the least helpful feedback. Not because they are incompetent, but because they are reticent to hurt your feelings and are going to overlook the flaws in order to keep you happy. I am not saying you shouldn’t use your family and friends, don’t get me wrong. To be honest some of the best feedback I received was from my family, but that was do to the fact that those members I gave it to were die hard fantasy fans and writers themselves, so they had no problem with cutting my script down to size.

I would highly recommend finding other avid fantasy readers and possibly authors to add to your team. You will be surprised at the number of shortcomings found when you let a few well trained or well read individuals get a hold of it. My first draft was the worst sort of dribble I could have ever asked a reader to look over, but my betas held firm and with an attitude of wanting to see me succeed, they proceeded to layout the downfalls to my story and writing. It was the best thing to ever happen to me as a writer. It was a very eye opening experience. In fact it was so enlightening that I put myself through it not just once, or twice, but three times.

I will talk more about the beta process in my next blog post where I discuss how I went from the first draft to the final.