Okay, 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….