Saturday, September 10, 2011

In praise of beta readers

It's a fine line between your manuscript getting published - and it getting rejected.
There are any number of great ideas for books out there, and plenty of people with a talent for writing.
So what does make the difference?
For me, it is the quality of the advice you get - especially from beta readers - and of course what you do with that advice.
I've written before how a gust of wind was the difference between my first book, The Wounded Guardian, being published or not.
Of course it was the advice I was given, because of that gust of wind.
Beta readers make a huge difference to a book - but how do you find them?
They've got to be people you can trust to be honest, people able to find the flaws in your writing and also able to offer constructive criticism.
It's a fine line. You don't want to have too many people reading early drafts, because you can get too much conflicting advice.
But there's always the danger of not being able to see the big picture - the wood for the trees.
I am very lucky to have a couple of beta readers whose judgment I trust.
It was their suggestions that led me to a massive rewrite of the first book of the new series.
Of course you can't write a book by committee, but beta readers make all the difference.
I have no doubt there are many wonderful books languishing in dusty drawers or forgotten folders deep in the bowels of computers, all for the lack of beta readers.
If you don't have one (or two) then begin searching.
Most people know the value of a publishing editor, a copy editor and proof readers. I've been lucky enough to work with fantastic ones.
But I wouldn't have had a chance without a beta reader.
Truly, they are a vital part of the process.

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