When our heroine decided to look into the topic of beta reading, dear Reader, she had no idea how difficult it would be to find resources. Oh, there are plenty of hits in the old search engine, but they’re almost all to do with fanfic beta reading. Nothing wrong with fanfic if that’s your genre, but I was looking for information pertaining to the general application of beta readers.
That said, you might be surprised that my first link is to a fanfic site called KatSpace, by Kathryn Andersen. Please don’t reject this one out of hand because of that. It’s titled simply Beta-Readers and it speaks to the process well. It also has some important points about how to choose a beta reader and how to be one.
Literary Rambles also addresses the question in What is a Beta Reader & Where Do I Find One? Casey McCormick gives good insight into how a beta reader helps a writer. She also gives good ideas on how to, you guessed it, find beta readers. At the end, she turns the question to her readers and their comments give more ideas.
Beth Bernobich wrote a compelling essay on her blog called Alpha and Beta… which details the responsibilities and qualities of good alpha readers as well as beta readers. Moreover, she speaks to the subject of critiquing styles. This is a good read for anyone with questions about the process.
One of the most common suggestions for finding beta readers is to join a writers group. Holly Lisle has an article on her site titled The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, or How to Choose a Writers Group. It’s a good and thorough look at the subject. Be picky about what group you join by making sure it suits your needs. Holly gives some ideas on how to do just that.
I’ve had the honor of reading for others. It’s an exciting role in the process of birthing any form of writing. It’s critical to make a good match between writer and beta. Without that, the process falls apart. It offers nothing to the author which will improve the writing and ends up frustrating all involved. Trusting instincts and knowing how to sift through the advice are abilities that some have naturally. I expect that all, even they, improve those skills with experience.
As I get deeper into the revisions of my current novel, I’m aware that the time is coming for beta reading. Nervous? You bet I am. Eager? That, too. How do you feel about the beta process, either being the beta or using the advice?