Friday, June 6, 2014

Are you a GOOD Beta Reader?

Have you volunteered to be a beta reader and then not known what you should do exactly?

I've had the pleasure of beta reading for authors whose writing I adore and they don't want to hear sugar-coated praise, "THIS BOOK IS AWESOME!"  or "I LOVED IT!" with no other commentary on the story. Now, the book could be awesome, but is every scene, character or theme of the book awesome? Probably not and that's where beta readers are worth their weight in gold. 

Here's some of the points I like to make when beta reading.
  1. First, did the story grab me and hold my attention to the end? If not, where did my interest wander away from the story? 
  2. Was there too much of an info dump at the beginning of the book? Did the descriptions go on and on and on? Were any of the characters totally unbelievable in the actions especially with how they were written within the story?
  3. Was the ending satisfying? Did the major plot points get resolved? Now this doesn't mean that every problem thrown at the characters need to be resolved especially if the book is part of a series, but rather, did 1 or 2 major obstacles become resolved while leaving a cliff hanger for the next book.
  4. I like to beta read a story in a word document with "track changes" on. This way I can point out things as I go along. I also love to comment on scenes that are, in fact, totally awesome! I also can catch typos and mark them for the author, but this is not the primary function of the beta reader. Most authors send their books to a professional editor for their final copy editing so beta readers need not worry about these things. If you beta read the story on your kindle, you can easily highlight sections that don't quite work for you.
In the end, beta readers help a story become stronger and TOTALLY AWESOME! I have some fantastic beta readers who have graciously given their time and their opinions for our current book, WITCH'S CURSE. They have made the book better while pointing out parts that didn't work for them. That's exactly what we were looking for. No sugar coating wanted here!