Hello, folks. It’s been a while since I last posted but I wanted to shed some light on an issue I’ve been noticing/dealing with for quite some time.
If you aren’t sure what beta readers are, they’re the first batch of people to read an authors unfinished manuscript. They provide insight and a new set of eyes. Their notes can change the story for the better and make us see things we wouldn’t otherwise notice because we’re so close to the story.
ARCs are Advanced Reader Copies. These are usually quite finished (uncorrected proofs but extremely close to the finished product) copies given for the sole purpose of reviewing. This is an author’s way of getting a buzz going. They read and promote and review and it is lovely.
Now, there are some authors who blur the lines. And, whatever! Let them do whatever makes them happy. But I’m going to go ahead and clear the air on what to/not to do when an author asks you to beta read. HERE WE GO!
- DON’T share the plot with others. (Hi. Duh.)
The author is giving you their work–their baby–so please understand that this is a hugeeeee deal for them.
- DO be honest.
Look, maybe you’re friends with the author. Maybe you don’t want to piss them off. But you have to realize that whatever you don’t tell the author, someone else will…in a review once the book is published. All is better when you’re honest.
- DO explain thoroughly.
This whole, “I don’t like your main character,” is cool and all but what the f*ck can the author do with that? Really? Explain why. We’ll sort out the bias from the legitimate reasons.
- DON’T LEAVE A REVIEW FOR A BETA COPY!!
This is one that I’ve seen happen several times and it makes me want to rip my hair out. You simply can’t review an unfinished product. You can’t! Things change. A lot can be altered. It isn’t right and it isn’t fair. So…stop. Please?
- DO keep the author informed throughout the process.
We know you all have your own lives and we try not to take it personally when we don’t hear from you but dropping in every once in a while is good for the author’s peace of mind. Otherwise we’re going crazy. No, really. At least, I kind of am and fill my time with episodes of Family Guy and Robot Chicken. Please don’t go silent. If you don’t like what you’re reading, tell the author. Majority of us will thank you for your time anyway. It happens!
- DO ask the author how they’d like their feedback.
Especially if they don’t bring it up. Do they want it as you go or all on one document? The key to any successful relationship is communication so be sure to keep that in mind.
- DO realize that you are important and an integral part of this whole writing gig.
Your time is valuable and if we aren’t thanking you and telling you that, I’m sorry. And I’ll tell you here: You are amazing and we are so lucky to have you.
- DO be prepared for tons of questions.
It’s always nice to finally have someone to talk to about the characters you’ve spents months over. I don’t know about other authors but I get so squealy and giddy. I can’t even help myself.
- DO NOT be upset if the author doesn’t use all of your suggestions.
At the end of the day, we have to decide what’s best for the story. And maybe you make some valuable points and we really listen to everything you’ve laid out for us. But we have to be the ones to decide what to use and what not to use.
At the end of the day, we make our own rules. I’m not going to tell you how to run you sh*t just like I wouldn’t want you to tell me how to run mine. But this is what these titles and distinctive jobs have meant for me in my writing world. This is what I’ve learned in my years in the writing world and, for the most part, others have utilized this way of doing things.
Now playing “Stan” by Eminem.
All my love,