Monday Musings: Thoughts Of A Beta Reader

ponderingOkay, I’ve got some shit on my mind (when don’t I) about beta reading, and I’m addressing this openly to any author who may happen to read this post as well as fellow beta readers. I have two questions for you: One, do you utilize them? And two, what are your realistic expectations of your beta(s)?

I have been a beta reader for a cross-section of authors in the IR romance and AA romance genre, and almost every author’s “requirements” have been different. I have been beta reading consistently for two years now, and in this time, only one author that I can instantly think of has taken my feedback to heart and implemented changes. No, I was not trying to re-write her story (as I have been lowkey accused of), but she created a forum for her beta readers and presented her WIP (work in progress) in increments and solicited feedback collectively.

As a beta, I take that responsibility very seriously, and I don’t read an author’s work to be a yes woman or a fangirl. I offer honest and critical feedback, and if something doesn’t make sense or doesn’t jibe with the storyline, then I bring it to the author’s attention. Now, admittedly, my delivery may be somewhat “unrefined”, but it’s coming from a place of good intention (Don’t they say the road to hell is paved with good intentions?).

Come to think of it now that I’m writing this post, maybe I was never selected to read as a beta per se, but just to be one of the firsts to read a new body of work in exchange for a review? But….that’s how it wasn’t presented to me (Or maybe I just heard “Read my new book and tell me what you think…”). Hmmm…delivery and intentions go both ways….

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4 thoughts on “Monday Musings: Thoughts Of A Beta Reader

  1. LOL I hollered reading this post! I’ve also been a beta reader for a few authors and I ask them upfront what is it you want from me? Most have taken my ideas and implemented them into their stories but a few have chosen to stick to their guns, which in my opinion weakened the story. I see beta readers as a test audience. We’re there to see if the story jives and if the characters are consistent throughout the tale and to see if the plot flows smoothly. We can only help authors who truly value constructive feedback. All authors should utilize betas that they know will give it to them straight.

    1. YASSSSS!!! I’m truly not trying to rewrite your story, but as a reader and fan of your work, I’m trying to tell you some things that may not work. Like you, some take it all into consideration and make some changes while others proceed as planned… and I’ve seen it backfire on more than one occasion.

  2. LOVED every solitary word. I think as a newbie author myself who have beta-read, it’s frustrating when authors send you their work, you offer your assessment, and you’re still left wondering what happened to said assessment when you see the final product on an e-store site. I don’t want beta readers who love my WIP. Tell me the honest truth because any author worth his or her salt will want to hear how best to improve his or her storytelling before it’s criticized on Amazon or B&N or sits in those sites with no reviews or low sales. Beta readers in my opinion should be able to tell an author points that worked and didn’t, but that is why authors should submit a questionnaire to beta readers.

  3. I like the idea of a questionnaire. I actually did have one author do just that, and it was very helpful to me the beta and to the writer. Sometimes you don’t know how you feel about what you’ve read until you are asked questions. You just know you don’t like something (or vice versa) but can’t quite articulate it.

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