The Beta Reader Experience As An Author

Hey all and welcome to my vlog! My name
is Erin and this is the beta reader experience as an author. This is to help newbies who are coming into this process who may not know what to expect So I just want to start off by saying that beta readers are a very essential part
of the whole writing process. They are wonderful people who are volunteering
their time to help you make your story better and I am so so grateful to all
the beta readers that have been with me through this journey. So I will not be
explaining the fine details of how beta readers work, how to find them, how to be
one, etc because Jenna Moreci has already done a whole video series about this and
it explains pretty much everything. So I will put the links to those below. What
I’m going to be talking about is the actual experience of the beta reader process. I will be going over the good, the bad, and the ugly. Even though the beta reader process is incredibly important it is not all sunshine and
roses. I want all the newbie writers who are going to be starting with beta
readers to not get blindsided by some of the bad parts of this process. So I’ve
talked to a bunch of other writers about their experiences and a lot of my own
personal experiences to pick out some very common things that happened during
this process Number One: Not everyone will stay.
You’re going to want a minimum of 10 beta readers reading your book before it
makes its way to an editor, but preferably you want up closer to around
40 if you can. Part of the reason that you want to have a long list of beta
readers is to compensate for the people who are going to be dropping out. This is
going to happen for lots of reasons that aren’t necessarily reflective of your
work. Maybe they didn’t realize how much work beta reading is because it is a lot
more in-depth and a lot more time-consuming than regular reading is
or their school getting in the way or work or emergencies or whatever. Life
happens Maybe they totally misread what the book
was about and it’s not their cup of tea. Whatever the reason it is not uncommon
to lose a third or more of your beta readers through each round. Sometimes they will tell you that they’re leaving and sometimes they’ll just ghost. Number Two: Communication is hard. This rolls over from the first point.
Maybe they’re not online that often or maybe they’re just bad at communication
in general. Make it clear how you’ll be communicating with your beta readers and
the time limits that they have to respond to things. It doesn’t help anyone
if you’re sitting there waiting for a month to get a simple response to a
question. Some beta readers will be great and they’ll get back to you immediately
or very quickly and other ones are just gonna leave you high and dry. If a
deadline passes and you haven’t heard anything then check in with that beta
reader to see what’s up. Number Three: People will be confused.
They will get confused over things that you think are clear is a day. Remember that you have
the entire story plus tons of additional information in your head that makes
everything make perfect sense when you read it. Your beta readers don’t.
Sometimes their confusion will be valid because you forgot to include details that explain whatever it is and sometimes they’re just gonna be confused no matter what. If you have a bunch of betas that are all confused over the same thing look into it and fix it. If it’s just one you’re probably okay assume that it is a beta specific issue and not necessarily the story. Number Four: Your feelings are going to get hurt. Not everyone is gonna like your book. It
is entirely possible that betas will rip your stuff to shreds and you need to be
prepared for that. Even if they have mostly positive things to say it’s still
possible for them to make an offhand comment that is a baseball bat to your
emotions without them even realizing it. Try to be aware of your personal
insecurities going into this process so if there’s a part of your story that
you’re really worried about, brace yourself when your betas get to
that point so you are not caught completely off-guard. If your work does
get shredded it doesn’t necessarily mean that your work is bad. It just means that there’s stuff to fix. Get as much feedback as you can and take that with you into the next draft. Hopefully the next round will go smoother. Number Five: People will try to explain your own book to you. It doesn’t matter that you’re the
writer. It doesn’t matter that you’ve done the research. It doesn’t matter how
familiar you are with a subject matter. It is entirely likely that you will have at one beta trying to explain your own work to you. Sometimes they might point out something useful, but on the whole my personal experience but this has just been mansplaining. Number Six: You’re gonna want to argue… but don’t. Betas are giving you their honest opinion and
while you might feel defensive about that, keep it to yourself. They are
helping you. For free. Take the criticism and the comments and just try to roll
with it. If there’s a continuous problem like they’re being racist or misogynistic or whatever then consider dropping them. Number Seven: People can be scary.
I write about a lot of ladies and I have had some beta readers reveal some
extremely alarming views about consent and some disturbing depths of misogyny.
People will make offhand comments that just have you staring wide-eyed at the
screen in disbelief. This is not general criticism. These are comments that are
deeply rooted in hate or ignorance and they may not even realize what they’re saying. Granted some people are genuinely awful
and are saying things just to be hurtful but others may not understand that what
they’re saying is super messed up. This is something to take into consideration if you want family or friends to beta read for you. You will probably read things that you can NEVER unread. Which brings us to our next point. Number Eight: you will probably have to drop people. It is rarely easy to drop
beta readers but it also depends on the reason that you’re dropping them. If
people aren’t communicating with me I will give them a set time line, like if I
haven’t heard from you by X day I will assume that you are no longer interested
in being a beta reader and I will remove you from the list or if they are just
not understanding something that is important to your story but all your
other beta readers are then you can consider dropping them as well. In that
case it just means that they are not the right reader for your story and that’s
okay. You thank them for their time, tell them that you are not continuing with
them as a beta reader and move on. If they are belligerent and awful and you
don’t feel comfortable addressing it then don’t feel bad about not sending
them more chapters. Sure they’re offering their time for free but that doesn’t
mean you have to put up with legitimate abuse. Number Nine: Your emotions are going
to be a roller coaster. You will get frustrated, angry, and elated through this
process When people love your work you’re going
to be floating on a cloud but you’re also gonna have to deal with a lot of
the previous points to get there. Number Ten: It’s going to be worth it. Even if things don’t work out with all of your beta readers chances are you’re gonna
find some gems. Some betas will genuinely love your work and strive to be helpful.
They’ll gush over what they love, point out flaws and confusions, and just be
wonderful human beings in general. The whole point is to have other eyeballs on
your work that have some distance so you know what needs to be fixed.
Good or bad, betas are going to be that. So thank you so much for watching I hope
this video was helpful. If you liked it give it a thumbs up and don’t forget to
subscribe. If you’d like to be notified as soon as I upload then a ring that
bell. All my social media links will be in the description below. Both of my
books Olympian Confessions: Hades and Persephone and Olympian Confessions: Hera
are available in eBook and paperback. You can check them out as well as my new
critique service on my website. Links for those will be below. I will see you all
next week with another video. Bye! I bring another cat and you just go back
in. For the love of God

10 thoughts on “The Beta Reader Experience As An Author

  1. But Jenna! I mean Erin! 🙂 Great video. Not sure if I am looking forward or not to using Beta Readers. I didn't use them with my first book.

  2. The best piece of advice is for writers is to grow thick skin and actually listen to their betas feedback. Instead of focusing just on the positive all the time they need to take in the negative with just as much pride because they are getting FREE help that is honest. If done the right way it's said from a place of helpfulness and not to make them feel like crap. So many authors flip their shit when someone doesn't praise their every word and actually make a little change. And sadly some turn on their betas and cut them and o ly to claim their beta was the one in the wrong when they offer simple fixes that could, you know, improve the story as a whole. (This didn't happen to me on either side but I just found out someone in the authortube community has done this to multiple betas and it really made me think twice about her, her books, and her channel. Also not you. Just want to make that clear but your beta video made me think of that mess.)

    On a real note, you brought up some great points but at the end of the day the biggest thing an author needs to do is be open to change and be open to hearing the negatives just like the positives.

  3. I've had all of them but I always facepalm at the mansplaining because they are usually so stuck in their belief that they know this better than I do. I've also had some seriously weird comments! But yes a rollercoaster going through betas now for a book and it's scary but so worth it!

  4. omg your kitties playing together in the background is EVERYTHING. <3 <3 This is also a really fabulous video in general… beta reading can be a confusing process to navigate, but I think this video presents a lot of really good advice. Thanks for making this!

  5. lol I love your cats <3
    Quick question, I'm getting enough opinions about this. After the beta reading process, after collecting and comparing feedback, and putting those feedback to work in your story, do you go back to Beta Reading after changes have been made to your story OR do you go straight to an Editor? After you do go back to the Beta Reading process do you stick to the same group or a different group? Thank you for the video by the way, very helpful 🙂

  6. This was an amazing video and even though I'm not there yet, these are amazing things to keep in mind, really appreciate it.

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