Now comes a magical time when elation and pure terror intertwine to turn a fairly mentally sound person into a puddle of insecure goo. That’s right! It’s time to share my novel with its first readers!
What is a beta reader?
You’ve probably heard the term “beta” relating to software programs. When a machine or an app is “in beta,” it means it is being tested by a sample group of users prior to its official release. This is to get feedback and iron out any bugs before it goes on sale or goes out to the public as a whole.
It means essentially the same thing for my novel. Beta readers are often the first people other than the author to see the story. Their job is to share their impressions with the author. They can call the author out on a scene that doesn’t make sense or a character that falls flat. They can also compliment a line of dialogue, a particular metaphor, or the way a setting is described.
It’s a lot like being in a book club where the readers’ thoughts can actually change the book before it is printed. It’s like leaving a review that can actually improve the novel. Interested?
The one down side is that the book has not yet been professionally edited. Now, I’m not a bad self-editor and I have done everything I can to make this a smooth, enjoyable read but there will be some errors. After all, there are often errors in bestsellers after multiple professional edits.
How does it work?
Everyone has a different process for beta readers. Here’s mine:
If you’re interested, shoot me an e-mail either directly at email@example.com or through the Contact page of this site. Let me know what sparked your interest in beta reading for me and also what format you’d like the document in. (PDF? Word?) I’ll send off the first three chapters of the manuscript and a very short survey. One of the questions will be: Would you like to read the rest of the manuscript?
If after reading the first few pages you realize the book is not for you, just let me know in the survey. Of course I’m interested to know why you weren’t into it. Was it slow-paced? Did a character turn you off? You will still have my sincere gratitude and I will never spam your email. Pinky swear!
If after those first three chapters you’re dying to read more, send back the survey with a “yes” and I’ll send the rest of the novel and another survey for when you’ve finished.
I want the process to be nearly as easy for you as just reading a book. I don’t want it to feel like English class. So I’ll keep the survey short and sweet. It’s just a way to let you know what information I’m looking for.
But, there’s no such thing as too much information! It’s impossible for me to read the book like it was any other. I can’t be objective because the story and characters are alive in my head. I’m interested in knowing how the book reads to others. What parts made you say, “Huh. That makes no sense.” What parts made you say, “I wish this character was real so we could hang out.” Did you get that good elevator feeling during a love scene? Did a fight scene make you tense? I want to know! I also want to know if you fell asleep during that really long chapter or if you were bored at any point. These are all things I can improve before the book is ready for publishing.
What’s in it for you?
Well, you get to be the first person to read someone’s book. I think that’s pretty neat. That’s what I’ve loved most about the beta reading I’ve done for others.
If you read through the whole novel and give feedback, you’ll definitely be mentioned in the Acknowledgements when the book is published. There may be more perks but since I’m new to publishing and not sure whether I’ll be self-publishing or pursuing traditional publishing, I can’t make too many promises, yet. But, I remember those who help me!
Also, if you like my writing, you’ll be on the list of potential beta readers for the next story! So, you’ll get to read another book before the rest of the world does.
What’s the book about?
If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you might have a feel for what the book is like from the excerpts I’ve posted. Here are the details:
It’s a post-apocalyptic romance. (Yep. It’s a thing.) There is violence. There is strong language. There is non-explicit sex. *Trigger Warning* There is allusion to sexual abuse in character history. (Nothing takes place during the novel and nothing is described in detail.)
It’s around 105,000 words. That’s not short but it’s not epic length. For a comparison, here are the word counts of some popular books.
Suzanne Collins – The Hunger Games – 99,750
Emily Bronte – Wuthering Heights – 107,945
George R. R. Martin – A Game of Thrones – 292,727
J.R.R.Tolkien – Lord of the Rings – 455,125
Here’s a blurb about the book.