I am a very cynical reader. Some of the silliest, minute details that don’t line up will throw me out of a story. I can almost hear the others in my bookclub groaning to “get over it, already” but I just can’t help it. Do authors really want to hear me nitpick? Probably not after the virtual ink is dry and they can’t do anything about my review, but before hand, when they still have a shot at tweaking a few things before the final draft goes to print, maybe?
Here is Hank Edwards on the value of beta readers.
Finding the right crowd is tough. Trusting that crowd with your unpublished writing is even more difficult.
I have to admit I was at a loss what to write about for this blog post. Should I chatter on and on about myself and my latest books (two this year so far: “Shacked Up,” the suspense thriller sequel to my first Loose Id publication “Holed Up,” and a 1940s noir mob romance “Hired Muscle”), or do something different? Well, GayRomLit is definitely going to be different for me, so I decided to do something different as well.
I see posts all the time about people looking for or editing because of beta readers. Let me tell you, beta readers are the next best thing to sliced bread. Seriously. If you find a good beta reader, someone willing to sit down and read your story within a week or two, give you honest, not always positive feedback, comment on areas that are confusing, or call you out for naming a secondary character Stan in one chapter and Harry in subsequent chapters, hold on to that person as tight as you can. Buy them drinks, walk their dogs, do something to keep that person in your life because without that other set of eyes, it’s tough out there.
Oh, I know, there are editors who are paid to do that for your publisher. And that’s all well and good, but an editor also has 15 or 20 other manuscripts to slog through and, while they try to catch everything, sometimes things just slip past. It happens, hell, it happens to me reading over my own stuff. You know what you MEANT to write, so you just see that’s what is written there. A beta reader is focused on your manuscript and knows you and your writing well enough to ask those in depth questions.
Beta readers. Get some.
And here’s where I blab on about myself. I am part of a group of writers who post free stories on our blogs every Monday morning. We call ourselves the Story Orgy. There have been people who claim we are all one person, or we’re all women, or we all write each others’s posts, but whatever. We are six writers who post free m/m romance reads every Monday morning at 6:00 AM. Four of us do this on a weekly basis, the other two join in when their schedules permit.
This group is amazing. We help one another with edits, provide encouragement and advice and, basically, just listen to one another. If you can find a similar-minded set of writers, band together and support one another. I can’t tell you how much this has meant to me and my writing. It’s such a lonely job, writing, it really helps to step outside of your own head for a while and chat about things, see what others are up to, share a recipe or two and maybe, just maybe, find the spark of an idea to take your characters from just interesting to completely believable.
I wish I’d had beta readers and a writing group when I first started writing. Today, I can’t imagine my life as an author without them.
Thanks for reading, and I look forward to meeting everyone at GRL in October!
Hank is offering up a digital copy of Hired Muscle, available from Silver Publishing. To enter, comment below and let us know if you think you could be a beta reader. Do you read for the pleasure of it, getting lost within a story and overlooking any mistakes …. or could you tell some of you favorite authors your honest opinion?
Open until Thursday, July 12th at 11:59 pm (PST). Winner will be selected and notified on Friday.