It’s always a thrill for me to spend time with another Canadian writer, especially one from my home town of Toronto! Roberta Pearce is here to share her love for beta readers, something with which most authors will invariably agree.
Please help me welcome Roberta Pearce.
9 Reasons Why Authors Need Betas
I recently read [I’m glad I don’t remember where, exactly] of an author dissing his/her betas because they didn’t “get” his/her “brilliantly conceived” novel. I still have scrape marks on my jaw from where it hit the floor. What if this story went viral? What if herds of roving betas suddenly rebelled? Resigned?
Well, I, for one, would be totally boned.
I’d self-published two novels before I even heard of beta readers. [Yes, I’d been self-pubbing in an isolated cave. LOL. I knew nothing.] The news was a stunner for me: “What?” said I. “There are people who will willingly read my MS and report back with their feels and maybe flag some typos? That is . . . is . . .” Then I burst into joyous tears, and left my cave in search of these magical creatures.
Now, I was smart—by accident rather than design—because what I did first was: Tah-dah! Became a beta. I’m not a great beta reader, but doing it gave me perspective on having that job. [And no, it’s not easy. So yes, it is work.]
I won’t make a move without betas now. Even when I disagree with them, I need them. And here are the nine reasons why:
- They’ll kill your darlings when you can’t.
When you think you’ve been terribly clever [my weakness, always], betas will smack you around. Beta 1: I don’t get that [terribly clever] line. You should scrap it. Beta 2: Are you trying to be funny? Okay, nice try. Um . . .
- They’ll smack you around.
See point above. It’s worth repeating, because authors need it. You want only praise? Then give your novel to your mom. This smacking about by betas is done in an earnest and sincere wish to be useful. Remember: betas want to help you! And remember, too, it’s hard to get tone on the page, so when comments are painful to read, assume the tone is encouraging, and take the feedback under serious consideration.
- Their ranging voices give perspective.
Having betas with a wide range of tastes is ideal. Two betas can have completely different views on the same scene. Beta 1: That sex scene was too graphic for me! Beta 2: Did they have sex just then? I wasn’t clear on that. This divergence helps you pick an audience, or groom your work to your chosen audience. And a good reminder that mileage may vary.
- They’ll tell you you’re great.
They make book-boyfriends of your H and admire the wits of your h. They’ll tell you how some line or situation resonated deeply with their personal experiences. They’ll beg for an ARC and swag and your next WiP. They’ll street-team your ass off and tell their friends and Like all your FB posts. They will love you.
- They’ll tell you you’re awful.
They don’t actually do this. But when something in your MS doesn’t resonate with them, or doesn’t sit well for whatever reason, they will tell you. Those visceral reactions are pure gold.
- They’ll tell everyone about you.
To wit: “I’ve been beta reading this new book from this great author. I’ll let you know when it’s published. You’re going to love it! Oh, the release date is here! Share. Share. Share!”
- They’ll tell no one about you.
They will keep details of your book confidential. At least, that’s been my experience. Some of my betas are friends with each other, so they might talk amongst themselves, but I know it doesn’t leave the circle. Betas respect you, respect your work, and respect themselves.
- They’ll do it all for free.
- They’ll still read your stuff when no one else will.
Ever try to get a family member to pay serious attention to your creativity? And if reviewers trash your last novel and swear never to read your stuff again, your betas will still line up to get a taste of your magic. Even if it’s not that magical.
In short, betas think authors are the bomb and admire their accomplishments. Treat your betas well, and the rewards will be endless.
What about you, you lovely betas? Do you have any advice for authors who want to win your love?
Just a normal twenty-something girl, with a couple or four boyfriend mistakes behind her and a recent relocation to London, Adelyn Wilding is living an ordinary life. Then she’s shot on the street, dies, and is revived. So far, a busier day than expected.
While in hospital, she meets to-die-for Nathan Crawford, who helps unravel the motives behind the not-as-random-as-it-seems attack, while making her fall madly in love with him. With a wicked sense of humour, a penchant for Latin idioms, and a heavy fog on her memory, Adie alternates between clever and ditzy—even as the body count rises!
Roberta Pearce lives in Toronto, Ontario, and is currently having a love affair with her city. That’s the short form for: she’s single and likes to go out on the town with friends. The author of four romance novels that feature alpha heroes—and heroines who aren’t taking that crap—her latest novel strays into romantic suspense comedy territory. Famous Penultimate Words is scheduled for release July 24, 2015.
Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/robertapearceauthor