Last blog, I covered editing. This one, I want to talk about Beta Readers.
What are they? If you haven't heard of it before, a beta reader is a very kind person who carves hours of time out to read over the manuscript of a hopeful author. (The author is hoping they haven't written a bunch of drivel, and that someone, other than them, will actually enjoy it. Well - this author feels like that.)
What do they do? Different authors ask their betas to focus on different things - grammar, punctuation, story line, plot points, characterisation, wording, all sorts of things. I've been fortunate enough that most of my betas have been along for the ride from the start. And I love that the each check on different things.
When do you use betas? Your manuscript should be complete, and had at least one round of author edits. I go a step further, and format as well, but that's mostly to save time once it's all done.
Why use them? Betas are so incredibly important to the process. Good ones will call you on your mistakes - in Talhan, one of my lovely betas (Jodie Lane - go check out her books!) told me go "Go buy a full stop or ten!" and stop using run-on sentences. It's advice like this which makes my writing better.
How much do they cost? Some betas charge - and if they do, they should not be anywhere near the price of a full editor. Their job is very different. They aren't line-editing, or offering a developmental edit. They're working out the kinks in the story before the editor gets it. If you are lucky enough to find a beta who won't charge, then it's customary for most authors to offer a free copy of the finished book to them. After the amount of time and effort they put in, it's the least we can do.
Where to find betas? Ah, the sticking point. All of my betas I personally know. If you have that one friend who isn't afraid to tell you when you have something in your teeth, and they love to read in your genre then hit them up and see if they'd be willing to give you some constructive criticism. You can absolutely find some beta readers online, but as I haven't tried any of their services, I'm not the one to ask who is good and who isn't.
Will you beta my book/s? Currently, I don't have the time. There are a few select people I beta for, but I'm aiming to finish up this series pretty quickly. And if I'm beta-ing, I won't have time to do that.
Stay tuned for what comes next.