Beta-reading is so much fun! I love helping authors improve their stories any way I can and seeing the finished product is always heart happy. 😉 I’ve written a post on it before, geekily titled “The Beta-Reader’s Guide to the Galaxy”, but since then I’ve picked up a few more tips to help myself (and hopefully you too!) on this crazy journey of communication. Consider this a sequel. 😀 Here goes…
1. Survey the situation. Outside of the usual be-polite-you-are-dealing-with-someones-heart-and-soul-book-baby, I always try to make sure the author and I are on the same page. I always ask what stage their manuscript is in and what type of feedback they desire so I can suggest changes accordingly. If I’m asked to read a book going to print next week and to keep an eye out for typos, prescribing story-altering changes would just be discouraging and out of bounds at that point.
2. Don’t expect perfection. I literally told an author to spell “academy” with two c‘s the other day. (*blushes* I know… :D) Fortunately, he has an editor who will catch such blunders. As a beta-reader, it’s not my job to pounce on every possible error in the author’s manuscript and stress us both out to the moon and back. (Leave that to the editor–mwahaha!) Beta-reading is really just an opportunity for me to point out story strengths and weaknesses before it’s in ink.
3. Keep in mind the author’s age and skill. I always want to respect those older than me and try to keep my tone from becoming instructional. I’ve only worked with a few men, but the same goes for them too. When I know the author is early on in their writing journey, I try to give more tips to help shape their style and grow their knowledge base for future projects. (And I do love those veteran authors–their projects are sooo easy!) 😉
4. Don’t be afraid to say “no”. Oh, I hate doing this! It feels like telling someone their baby was ugly or something. *whimpers* But sometimes there just isn’t time. Sometimes the project needs to be a little more finalized before I can read it. Sometimes there is content that goes against my conscience. And sometimes I just really need to focus on my own writing. It’s hard to say no, but I’m getting braver. 😉
5. Have fun! I have discovered some rare gems and new favorite authors from beta-reading! It’s also a great opportunity for me to let my inner-fangirl out of her cage when I know (#INFJskills) an author needs a little extra encouragement. Not that I drum up feelings that aren’t there, but I just make sure to show them. I comment when something’s quotable, sad, funny, etc. and even do a little friendly yelling when they pull off an evil cliffhanger. 😀 Because, admit it–especially when they are editing, authors need a little validation. 😉
There you are! Enjoy the trip, and I hope you find the tea!