Why You Need Beta Readers and Where to Find the Best
Guest post by Lauren Sapala
In the tech world “beta” means something that isn’t finished yet; a product that’s still in the testing stage. Authors have now commandeered this term for their own, using it to describe the first circle of readers to review the finished draft of a manuscript. So what’s the difference between giving your novel to a beta reader instead of your friends or family? Well, other than honest, objective feedback (which is one of the most valuable things any writer could ever ask for) the chances of success for your book go up enormously.
The ideal beta reader is usually another writer, and preferably someone who is interested and familiar with the genre in which you are writing. Getting feedback from another writer means you’re much more likely to receive concrete suggestions for improvement, along with comments on what is and is not working. Having a writer as your beta reader also gives you the chance to enter into an exchange. After they read for you, you can read for them. As you examine the weak spots in another’s manuscript with a detached eye, you learn how to logically approach the problems in your own.
Bringing on beta readers, in short, helps you become a better writer.
So where do you find them?
Your Own Writing Group
Most creative writing groups focus on critique, and due to time constraints, each member is usually only allowed to submit a few pages at a time for feedback. Beta readers, on the other hand, should be reading your entire finished manuscript.
Ask around within your current writing group to see if anyone else has finished their novel and if they would be interested in doing a beta reading exchange with you. Since it’s a trade, both of you will benefit. And since it can be done in off-hours, make it clear that it won’t interfere with the regular meetings of the group.
Social media doesn’t have to be all about self-promotion. Google+ offers a variety of excellent communities for writers looking to connect with like-minded individuals. The Writer’s Discussion Group has over 14,000 members, and if that sounds too overwhelming for you, smaller communities like Poets of G+, Aspiring Authors, and Writers, Authors, Bloggers are always open to new people too. You can browse around the different communities to find beta readers, or make a post of your own asking for volunteers.
MeetUp Groups and Workshops
If you live in a metropolitan area, Meetup.com offers a dynamic assortment of options for writers. You can find workshops and writing marathons, as well as gatherings dedicated solely to beta readers. This is a great avenue for those writers who prefer face-to-face interaction, and who are also open to meeting new writer friends. If you don’t see a beta reader meetup listed for you city, you might think about organizing your own.
Online Writing Forums
For writers looking for very specific feedback from knowledgeable readers (in the genre of hard science fiction, for example), online forums are an efficient way to find them. Because participants tend to cluster around particular topics of interest, writers can post their call for beta readers in the area most relevant to their style and content. Writers’ Café, the Next Big Writer, and WritingForums.org or Wattpad.com are just a few of the online resources available that can help writers connect.
After you have found your handful of promising beta readers, make sure both of you have the best experience possible. Be clear on your expectations. Tell your beta readers exactly what you are looking to gain from their feedback, and exactly how detailed you want them to be.
Remember, beta readers are not editors. Their function is not to correct your work, or make any actual changes. The goal of bringing on a beta reader is for you, as the writer, to get a view of your own work through a reader’s eyes.
And that, for every writer, is truly invaluable.
About the Author
Lauren Sapala is a writer, writing coach and blogger at www.laurensapala.com. She blogs about writing, creativity, and finding and holding onto one’s inspired passion in life. She currently lives in San Francisco, is working on her fifth novel, and in her free time facilitates the writing group she founded, “Write City”.
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Social Media: Is it a Total Waste of Time?
It’s always surprising: when searching on Google for a certain word or topic, I often find our own articles and blog posts, as well as re-posted content from our Google+ sites on Google’s first page. This very high ranking on Google’s Search Engine means that users find easily our content. And if YOU, as an author, write a lot of posts, blog articles etc. – always with a link to your website or Amazon author page – you will be high in Google ranking too and more people will learn about your books.
Total Waste of Time
Authors flock to Social Media sites to get the word out about their books. However, many writers see it as a waste of time and would rather write on their next book. Smart authors combine the best of the two worlds and post small snippets of their writing or interesting details of their research on Google+ posts. Think about it: if you combine your Google+ page with your Twitter presence, explained here in detail, you post only once on Google+ and it appears on Twitter as well. You save 50% of your time on Social Media!
Your Goal for Being Online:
Unless you have ten-thousands of dollars every month to spend on advertising for your book, you might use the more subtle way of book marketing and meet your readers online on Social Media sites. But what would your (potential) readers be interested in or want to hear from you? They certainly want to learn more about you as a writer and they want to learn about your books and get samples of your writing. It means you can do what you like most: WRITING and at the same time give your potential readers and buyers of your book reasons to follow you and tell others, or re-post and re-tweet your content.
Use Your Creativity
Authors often ask: “what should I post on Google+ or on Social Media sites in general?” Nothing easier than that. You can use every word, every fact, every location or scene in your book to write a short post, blog or even a long article. Even novels, such as a Science Fiction story has lots of potential to be used to write short articles. Just one example: I recently thumbed through a clients’ book and found on the first page, under acknowledgements, that she thanked the police chief of her town for giving her a tour and explaining her certain laws when she did the research for her book. Her meeting with the police chief and each one of the laws she learned about, could be the topic of a short article or blog!
For Authors: It’s a Must to Be on Google+
Google has been using Google+ to discover new content, and many authors have discovered that URLs (links to their sites or articles), but also posts that they commented and shared on Google+ are indexed very quickly – and they find themselves often on page 1 on Google’s search results – one of the main reason to be on Google+ or to post on Google+ communities.
Compare this to Facebook, where privacy settings and restrictions on data sharing, make it rather often impossible for posts to never be crawled or indexed by Google at all. Unlike Facebook, which hides data from Google, or Twitter – which directs Google not to follow most of its links – Google+ data will be immediately and fully accessible on the Internet and readers can find you and your books easily. Each post on Google+ acts like a mini blog post and adds highly share-able, link-able context to the search engines. Last but not least: Don’t miss to link to all relevant profiles from your Google+ “About” page.
To sum it up: Use your research and your manuscript to write lots of blog posts, articles and Social Media content and post it first on your Google+ page. Combine your Social Media sites, linking to each of them. Post with one click on several of your Social Media sites, which can be done by using scheduling sites, such as Hootsuite.com or Shortening Sites, such as Bit.ly. This is just for posting your articles – not for directly connecting with your followers or readers. The time you save when linking your Social Media sites is not only time you save to write, but also some time you can spend to connect directly with your readers! Social Media = Social Networking.
More About the Benefits of Google+
If you would like to get more support in all things publishing, have your book intensively promoted and learn how to navigate social media sites – or to learn how you can make yourself a name as an author through content writing: We offer all this and more for only $179 for three months – or less than $2 per day! Learn more about this customized Online Seminar / Consulting for writers: http://www.111Publishing.com/Seminars Or visit http://www.e-book-pr.com/book-promo/ to advertise your new book, specials, your KDP Select Free Days or the new Kindle Countdown Deals.
Please check out all previous posts of this blog (there are more than 1,030 of them : ) if you haven’t already. Why not sign up to receive them regularly by email? Just click on “Follow” in the upper line on each page – and then on “LIKE” next to it. There is also the “SHARE” button underneath each article where you can submit the article to Pinterest, Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and StumpleUpon.
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Posted by ebooksinternational on March 2, 2014 in Blogging, comment on posts, join the conversation, Marketing, post to public, posting, Social Media Book Marketing, Social Networks
Tags: Google+ a MUST for authors, GooglePlus is the best Social Media site, how to link all your Social Media sites, how to write great content, leverage your manuscript, Social Media Content, Social Media: Waste of Time?, your reason for being online