Sunday, February 13, 2011

Bring in the Beta Readers!

Rocky Peak Academy is almost ready.

"What?" you ask.

That's my new novel. Not sure if this name will stick, but that's what I'm calling it and I'm the master of my writing destiny (for now, until an agent, and an editor, and a publicist, and a... you get the picture).

I'm just about done editing my first draft. I suppose that would be considered the 2nd draft, but I'm not ready to make that commitment yet.

My manuscript will go to my wife (first reader) and Michael Levin (coach, BS detector and best selling novelist extraordinaire) sometime next week.

Once I have their feedback (the good, the bad, and a bunch of ugly), I will start the 2nd draft in earnest. And once that's done... bring in the beta readers.

Here's how I choose mine: they need to really care about my writing goals, they need to be willing and able to tell me the blatant truth, some will be artistically inclined, some are nearly copy editors, some are aspiring novelists. In total, I try to get about six of them. But it needs to be an even number.

Why even? For the tie-breaker, of course!

I will take all of their feedback and consider everything carefully (my ego is very small... it really is. I accept most feedback on face-value). If there's a pattern, then I have to trust my beta readers. But if there's a split, then house wins (that's me). I will make the call.

How do you pick your beta-readerss?

Do you look for people with strong fashion sense?

Maybe physically attractive?

Or is the intellectuals?

How many people?
Nope... no steroids here

Let me know. I'm very needy.

Take care, write well, and always, fight the good fight.


  1. Wow, none of my beta readers are that burly! ;-) I struggle with the beta reader thing. I have two critique partners, who are great, but for the final draft, I don't yet have a "stable" of beta readers.

    My preference would be non-writers who like to read my genre and can give me honest feedback about what stopped them along the way, and what they liked. Good luck with your own search!

  2. Thanks, Gwen. Would you pick readers that prefer your genre, or any avid reader? One of my beta readers for ACES, was not a "love story" type of person, but when she was done, she was so high on the novel that she admitted maybe she was a convert. That was such a huge compliment that I thought maybe I need to get people in and out of the genre as a general rule.

  3. I'd prefer readers in my genre to make sure I'm meeting the expectations of the genre, but sometimes it's good to get an opinion from a reader outside the genre too.

    Everyone will see something different in your work. The tough part is deciding what to fix and what to keep. =)


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