Friday, June 7, 2013

A tip a day to keep the rejections away 

After you and your CPs have examined each and every syllable of your MS several times over, then it's finally time to involve beta readers.  It may take you months or even a year to get this far, depending on how long it takes you to write.

alpha reader = the first group, likely a critique group, that reads the MS piecemeal with an eye on word choice, sentence structure, and dialogue

beta reader = second group to read the MS, reads it straight through with an eye on the overall plot, characters, and style of a book (good ones may also point out missed grammatical errors)

Things to consider when asking people to be beta readers:

1) What's your target audience?

- For example, if you write YA, asking a few responsible teenagers to read your book is an excellent idea.  But if you're a romance writer, adult women are probably the best ones to ask.  Use your genre to guide you in selecting beta readers.
- Run your premise by a prospective beta reader.  If they don't like the premise of your book, they probably aren't your target audience.

2) Your timeline may be very different than your beta readers

-  Here's the scenario: you hand out copies of your pretty MS to five carefully selected beta readers.  You wait at home, checking your email and phone messages each day, expecting to hear great things right away.  Days pass.  Weeks pass.  You hear from one of them.  Then a month or two passes by.  Another beta reader sends you their comments.  A few more months go by, and you contact the last three beta readers.  They "just didn't have time" or "forgot about it" or "will get to it when they can".  Odds are they'll never read it.  Which puts you in the awkward position of asking for the copies of your book back.  Better grin and bear it.

3) You're opening yourself up to more conflicting advice.

- If it hasn't happened yet, it's only a matter of time.  You will get the EXACT OPPOSITE ADVICE on your MS from two, very likeable, intelligent people and you won't know what to do.  So you have to ask your heart what it wants to do.  Remember advice is only advice.  It's not the law.  You don't have to follow it, but you do have to have a good reason to disagree.  Run your confusing, conflicting advice past your CP group.  They'll probably be able to talk you through it, or at least be compassionate about your frustration.

Hopefully, you'll pick some great beta readers who get back to you in a reasonable amount of time and give you helpful, non-conflicting advice.  Good luck!


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