I touched on this in my unscheduled post last night about the beta programme, but in my opinion, beta readers give a writer the chance to test out new content before it reaches market. If the content isn’t good enough or isn’t quite right, it can be brought up to standard.
I’ve had a couple of beta readers in the past year, but only one has consistently returned useful comments. Fortunately, those comments have helped to transform my work and my process. Where I make changes, and there have been sweeping changes this year, my first question is, does this work, does it address the concerns that the beta reader previously had?
What I’m lacking though is a difference of opinion, or opinions on a wide range of story issues. I’m not saying that it’s an unworkable situation; even one commenter is better than none. However, if I’m going to reach (or even figure out) my target audience, I’m going to have to engage with some of them and encourage them to be beta readers.
What does it feel like to get comments back from a beta reader? Overwhelming, I think. Having someone say genuinely that your story has potential makes all the work put into it worthwhile, without lessening your desire and motivation to get it finished and finally realise that potential.
Certainly it’s a very positive experience when you realise that there is more that you can do with a story. A second pair of eyes give you another perspective.
Sometimes if it’s a perspective which matches your own that’s not a bad thing. When I approached a beta reader last year to look at Flight of Passion (now retitled Servant of the Siphen) I already had an idea of what I needed to cut, and having someone agree with those ideas helped me to get on with it.
My sincere thanks go out to Jen Leigh, who read for me last year and this year.