POINT OF VIEW: A Good Beta

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Hey all,

I just got the last of my beta reads back for “The Rising Tide,” the sequel to “”The Stark Divide.”

If you don’t know what a beta reader is, it’s someone who reads an author’s story and gives it a critical review before the author submits the book to the publisher, giving us the chance to fix any egregious errors or plot misfires before the editors see the story.

I love my beta readers. I hate my beta readers.

It’s a private joke between Angel and us that, just once, I want my beta readers to all agree that my manuscript is perfect as-is. Spoiler alert: it never is.

As authors, we are too close to our own work. We can’t see the things that outsiders see when they read our stuff – from simple grammar errors and misspellings to the more complex stuff – when the plot goes awry or there are major consistency errors or pacing issues.

They are immensely valuable to any writer.

And yet… when you’ve been working on a story for months and months, and have a limited time before submission, and a beta reader points out something major you just have to fix… well, as I said, I love ’em and I hate ’em. But I couldn’t do this without ’em.

So. “The Rising Tide” has gotten good reviews form most of my betas, but it took one person in particular to crystalize what was wrong with it. The issue – an important character who gets short shrift in the final part of the story – is something that other betas sensed or touched on, but it took this person to pinpoint it and point the way to a solution.

I have ten days to fix it. I can do it. I keep telling myself I can, and I think I’m starting to believe it. 😛

So thanks to that beta for opening my eyes and helping to make “The Rising Tide” a better, stronger book. You know who you are.

To my author friends, do y’all use betas? What do you ask them to look for? Any tips for making the beta-author relationship work?

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