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BAB – Beta Readers Are A Must

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 BAB – Beta Readers Are A Must
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Issue #96, BAB, Monday, March 2, 2015
Voice Matters. Dare To Share Yours.  Impact the World.

Hey Michaela,

This week’s Big Idea discusses the importance of using beta readers to get valuable feedback about your books in the way of fact-checking, content consistency, and structural issues.

Also in this issue…

You’ll discover a lap desk plus cup holder and desk light that can enhance the coziness of the writing you do at home. Plus, you’ll get to meet this week’s Makin’ It Happen author Bonnie Gail Carter, a poet who is also enthusiastic about music and photography.

I hope this week’s issue helps to improve the quality of your books. And as always, thank you for being a BAB subscriber!

Write on,

 

Today’s Quote
“Words can be like X-rays if you use them properly – they’ll go through anything. You read and you’re pierced.”
Monday Musing

During Your Writing Process, Do You Seek Out Feedback On Your Work?

Today’s Big Idea

Beta Readers – Get The Feedback You Need To Mistake-Proof Your Books

By Jennifer Carlevatti Aderhold

Have you ever sent a text message you really regretted? I have. It doesn’t matter if it’s a mistake on your part or that darn auto-correct, it’s still embarrassing. Now imagine sending your book to an editor and finding out that you’ve made a major mistake – a mistake that could’ve been avoided if you approached your project with fresh eyes.

Beta Readers

It doesn’t matter how good you are, you’re still going to make mistakes, and you’re still going to miss things. Beta readers give you a fresh set of eyes to point out any mistakes you’re overlooking. Maybe it’s something innocent – you’ve changed one of your character’s hair colors halfway through. But maybe it’s something big – your realistic depiction of New York fails because you have the subway going somewhere it doesn’t actually go.

A beta reader can give you an overall impression of your story, some ideas on what is and isn’t working, and help you with small errors you might overlook.

Beta Readers Are Not Editors

Your beta reader sees your story before you submit it to editors. They’re the first person to see your story besides yourself. However, you should know that your beta reader is not an editor. Their job is to give you an overall impression of how they feel about your story. Their job is not to tell you how to fix it.

Pretend that you’ve built a car. Your beta reader is the first person to test-drive it. They’ll tell you if it doesn’t handle well, or if the engine won’t start, but they won’t tell you how to improve the handling or fix the engine. That’s true most of the time, at least. Some beta readers will go as far as offering line edits.

I Was a Beta Reader

It’s true! In fact, I’d wager most writers were beta readers at some time – it’s great experience. I was one of the beta readers for Gayle Carline’s “Hit or Missus.” If you’re looking for a beta reader, or you want to be one yourself, here are some traits you should be looking for:

The Target Audience

If you write romance novels, you probably don’t want a beta reader who only reads horror. No matter what you do, the romance novel isn’t going to please someone who hates romance novels, which means you can’t get an honest opinion from them. However, if you have a friend who devours romance novels, that’s perfect!

Tactful Opinions

The ideal beta reader understands that what they’re seeing is a work in progress. They know that you’re aware there are problems and that you plan to fix them. As such, you don’t want someone who’s going to laugh at every mistake you make. You want a beta reader who realizes what their place in the process is, and is willing to point out the weak spots of your novel without crushing your ego.

But Not Too Friendly

It’s one thing to have a beta reader who doesn’t attack your weaknesses; it’s another to have a beta reader who refuses to see them altogether. If someone is too close to you or cares about you too much, they’ll know how hard you’ve worked. Romantic partners and parents are rarely good choices for this reason – they want you to feel good, and part of being a beta reader is pointing out flaws.

Plus, it’s a natural instinct as a writer to be defensive when someone points out the mistakes you’ve made. If your beta reader is too close to you, it’s easy to hold a grudge.

Sometimes They Write, Too

It’s good to have a mix of writers and non-writers as your beta readers, as both will notice different things. Non-writers typically notice how they feel about things, whereas writers are much more likely to notice smaller details – if you’re using passive voice too much, or if you have an excess of exposition.

Fair warning: beta readers that write are more likely to offer opinions on how to fix your story problems. Sometimes these suggestions may be brilliant, sometimes they won’t be. You need to know when to take these options into account and when to disregard them.

Specialists Please Apply

If your novel deals with a particular community or niche, it pays huge dividends to find a beta reader in that community. For example, if you write crime novels, a retired cop can tell you a lot about how the police force works, including what they would and wouldn’t do. Likewise, if you’re setting a story in ancient Egypt, a curator who’s highly knowledgeable about that time period can help your story feel truly authentic.

Finding Beta Readers

While you can look through your friend circle, sometimes they’re too close to you. Instead, you can try a website like Goodreads. Typically, writers make an agreement to beta read each other’s work. Try to find a writer you’re in-sync with for a better experience. Readers like the idea of being beta readers because they get to peak behind the curtain and help a writer out.

A Fresh Set of Eyes

Almost all writers use beta readers. They’re a fresh set of eyes that will check your blind spots and point out any problems you may have missed. If you’ve used a beta reader, or you’re looking for one, I’d love to hear your experience on the Be a Best Seller Facebook fan page.

And remember:

Voice matters. Dare to share yours. Impact the world.

Your “Write” Resource

Laptop Buddy

If you’re anything like me, a lot of your writing takes place while curled up on the couch or sitting up in bed. And in which case, today’s “Write” Resource can make your writing a lot more comfy.

Being featured today is the Laptop Buddy Laptop Desk and Cup Holder.

The Laptop Buddy has a base comprised of molding foam balls, which allow for easy contouring to your lap, that are enclosed with a soft fleece casing.

The top is made from a durable piece of wood that has a water resistant textured finish. There is also a cup holder that can accommodate cups of most sizes along with a desk light that takes 3 AA batteries, which are not included.

Additionally, the Laptop Buddy comes with a fleece carrying handle so you can easily transport it from place to place. Check it out.

Makin’ It Happen

Bonnie Gail Carter

As this week’s Makin’ It Happen author we have Bonnie Gail Carter, who is 60 years old and lives in Peru, Indiana.

Bonnie is passionate about poetry, music, and photography, and she loves telling stories through her poems.

Bonnie’s life has been a roller coaster of both good and bad experiences. And through her poems she provides hope to people who are facing hard times. She gives inspiration to her readers that they too can overcome challenging situations no matter how difficult they might be.

Bonnie’s philosophy is “Don’t let the world take away your smile.”

The Chill Turned Warm is Bonnie’s first collection of poems. She wants her poems to give hope to people who are going through trying times, and she wants her readers to know that no matter what life throws at them, there is always a glimmer of sunshine and love is just around the corner.

In addition to writing poetry, Bonnie also enjoys nature and she loves animals. She frequently travels country roads taking photographs, which have been featured on multiple websites. Bonnie also promotes Donnie Townsend Music on her YouTube channel.

You can learn more about Bonnie and her work at:

en.gravatar.com/bonniegcarter#pic-l

http://www.facebook.com/PoetryMyStyle/

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