The Importance of Beta Readers

Editing Advice, Writing

My editing work has hit one of the usual lulls so I’ve been taking this time to work on my own writing. Last week, I sent out the novella I’ve been working on to a few beta readers. We’ve discussed beta readers on here before, but I want to reiterate how important it is to have people who will read your work before you actually get it out into the world.

You might think since I’m an editor that my writing is perfection on every level. You’d be wrong. And it’s why I am an editor – because I know that when we write, we often do not truly see our words with fresh eyes. We use crutch words. We gloss over things in our stories because we just assume our reader will be aligned with the voices in our heads.

Guess what? They aren’t.

For instance, I have a problem with ellipses. (Hi, my name is Sue. I’m an ellipses junky.) Every time I hear a pause in my head…I add ellipses. (See what I did there? That should have been a comma.) I can catch it quite easily in other’s works, but, apparently, not my own.

After I’d written What You Think You Know and several beta readers pointed out my ellipses addiction, I went over my new novella with a fine-toothed comb. Or so I thought. When not one, but TWO beta readers commented on my over usage of those pesky dots, I realized I was not yet over the hump. So I went back through it again and removed almost all of them. (They are actual correct uses for ellipses. Those I kept in.)

My point here is this: beta readers, editors and pre-order readers are VERY important to your writing. Not only are these folks usually good for free feedback, but they also help you to hone your writing skills.

(FYI – Most of my beta readers are also writers so I often exchange their feedback for my editing services. If you have something to give in return – I recommend it. This helps to create professional and lasting relationships. Also, if you have writer friends – ASK THEM FIRST. They will often give you more feedback than you imagined simply because, as writers, we don’t want to be associated in any way with sub-par stuff. Plus, we know the “writing rules.”)

In the end, I know my novella will be sharper, more focused and better defined thanks to my beta readers. Plus, I’ve gained a few new friends this way and look forward to providing something back to them in return.

This week try and connect with some other writers or people in your field. Can you do a favor for someone in exchange for something in return (or even for free)? #spreadthelove



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