Finding a perfect stranger to read a hundred thousand words you have written is not an easy thing. A writer is asking for about ten hours of a reader’s time in addition to whatever feedback can be shared.
I found my betas mostly via this blog and through a local community website. My upcoming science fiction novel Nineveh’s Child can be considered young adult (YA) because the main character is a young girl at two stages of her life. The website post got me in touch with a number of parents who hooked their kids up with my novel. Unfortunately most didn’t provide much in the way of feedback, but the few that did were invaluable. I was amazed at one local high school student who took the time to detail what he thought were the story’s strengths and weaknesses and also filled out five pages worth of notes on typos.
Most beta copies are as well edited as I can manage but haven’t yet been turned over to my editor or proofreader. This can be an obstacle for some. So for those readers who make it past a few errors and can get through my manuscript, a big thank you is in order. For any of my betas that didn’t finish, no worries! A beta isn’t obligated to read past the point where working with an author isn’t fun.
One challenge I hope authors working with betas overcome is realizing that betas of course have busy lives and other things going on besides reading a story from someone they probably have never met. We’re starting from scratch with many of these relationships. I’ve gotten to know a few of my betas better. One is dealing with a life-threatening illness. Another is an engineer and quite swamped, but not too busy to exchange comments with me on their experience with the novel. A third is a new science fiction author. I’ve had the privilege of seeing her work and am doing a beta read of my own with her upcoming novel.
All of this makes me appreciate how generous folks can be in the pursuit of reading something they might enjoy that’s written by someone they don’t yet know. In the grand scheme of things this is a minor kindness, but for a new writer eager to improve his craft and wanting to provide the best experience possible for a reader, it’s invaluable.
Nineveh’s Child will be released on May 15, 2017. I’m outlining a follow-up, tentatively titled Nineveh’s Exiles. I also have a teen superhero story about a boy whose father is a villain, where the boy wants nothing more than distance himself from his father’s name and notoriety. I’ll need beta readers!
If you’re interested in being a future beta reader, follow the link to my website below and fill out the form. I’ll provide more information about my upcoming projects. Beta readers get an honorable mention by name in the author notes. Thanks for reading.