#Writetip: An Author Needs Beta Reads

Face facts, without a group of beta readers, your editing is incomplete. You can only do a certain amount of self-editing, at least 2 or 3 passes over your writing before you need the aid of some fresh eyes.


Open Book by Honou used under CC License

The best would be fellow authors working as a small support group, or a local writer’s guild that has a critique group. You can even try to create an on-line network of fellow #indieauthors.

Here’s what I’ve discovered about beta readers. They can point out things that just passed over your head. Those types of errors are easy for a writer to make because everything is clear to the writer, and sometimes it’s hard to put yourself into the mind of a person who knows nothing about your plot and characters.

When I presented the #shortstory Little Red Revolution to my critique circle, I thought that my main character’s attitude was clear.  However, the readers understood and perceived his anger and displeasure, but then questioned why his attitude changed so rapidly. I never intended for anyone to see a change until the final paragraph of part I, but all of the readers thought that the change occurred four pages earlier. Why? Because I had failed to clearly explain that the character also expresses his anger through sarcasm.

The readers thought he had become comical too quickly, a change that I did not intend. I’ve altered it based on their feedback. A good beta read can give your work a final polish and quality that the general reading public expects from a traditional publishing house.

Have your beta readers given you some insightful commentary?

13 thoughts on “#Writetip: An Author Needs Beta Reads

  1. Hey Ernesto, This is Beldwyl from LMB. I am trying to figure out the pros and cons of putting my new author platform directly on wordpress, or having my regular hosting company, which uses wordpress tools, put it up on theres. The nexus of my question involves whether wordpress blogs hosted elsewhere (in my case it would be carlsonfoley.com) get the same exposure as sites on wordpress.com. I know that Ripple, my hosting company, has 100+ wordpress websites on it’s servers…but before I leap I want to make sure I understand the details. Any thoughts? Any thoughts on wordpress.org vs wordpress.com? Thanks, Mary


  2. Your platform is more than your blog. It also encompasses twitter, facebook, et al. They can all be linked together including a “.com”, which can be directly linked to a wordpress blog.
    You mentioned wordpress tools, will you get features like “freshly pressed”? If not then it should be hosted by wordpress.
    Your exposure depends on how well you tag your posts for SEO.
    I think there are more widgets available for .orgs than .coms as well. But I’ve also read that it is a changing trend.


  3. This is a great post! 😀 While I haven’t had them point out something in the plot that was missing, they’ve pointed out things that I didn’t know… such as I had a woman shoot someone then put the gun in her bra — my beta readers ALL pointed out that it would have been too hot to do that. LOL!


  4. Where does one find beta readers? Would love to have a give-take relation.
    We know our character so well, that his/her behavior is ‘but obvious’ to us. we need someone to ask what is so obvious about it.


  5. I’m now working on novel number five and I’ve been lucky to get multiple beta readers for all of them. The difference in quality between my first book (a total fuster cluck) and my current projects is huge, and beta readers were a huge reason why.


      • Seriously.

        I actually have a cycle with my own work. I finish it and believe it’s brilliant – far surpassing Shakespeare and Keats and Cervantes.

        Then I wait a month or two and look at it again and decide it’s unspeakable shit.

        Then I come back a year or so later and decide it’s maybe not so bad after all, but still sucks.

        Then a little later I go back to liking it.


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