The Importance of Beta-ing

October 11, 2009 at 6:25 PM | Posted in Beta Reading | 4 Comments
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Yes, I have a tendency to turn everything into a verb (something I may actually blog about some day!) But this post is all about being a beta reader. So, for the non-AW of you, what is a beta reader? Well, according to the Absolute Write dictionary, it is when:

“You’ve maybe had various individual chapters critiqued and you’ve edited your epic masterpiece to the best of your ability — now it’s time for someone to read the entire novel and see whether it flies. That someone is your beta reader.”

So, beta-reading. Beta-readers are so often invaluable to writers, but what are the pluses about actually do some reading of other people’s works yourself?

Well, there are many. One of these is that you get to read great books for free. AW has some amazingly talented writers, and you get to read their work before anyone else! Another is that you get that warm fuzzy feeling inside – you’ve helped someone! It’s probably pretty good for your karma too – he who betas will be beta’d in return.

I’ve beta-read a few novels, but never seem to have enough time for…well, anything, really. But I decided to find time, and took the brave step of putting down my name on the ‘Willing Beta Readers’ list. If you’re anything like me, you’ll read books and enjoy them, but there will be bits in many of them where you say ‘I would have done that differently,’ or ‘that character would not have reacted like that!’ Beta reading is your chance to point out the bits you feel don’t work quite as well, before the book is published – helping the writer notice things he/she maybe didn’t notice before. A new perspective, if you like.

But beta-reading can benefit you, the writer, too. You get to see what works and what doesn’t. You get to edit someone else’s work, and therefore gain valuable practice in editing your own work (I am a lot better at editing someone else’s work than my own, but hopefully I will improve!) They say good writers read a lot; I think good writers should also beta read. You’re helping someone else and helping yourself and, hell, it’s fun! Definitely a win-win situation. Now, I have some comments for my latest beta-read to finish. =] So, I’ll finish on a question: do you find beta-reading helps you, as a writer?

— Becky/Beckywannacuppateani



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  1. Fab post. :D

    I think beta reading can teach us how to think like editors, which is a skill we can turn to our own work.

    I’d love to be a beta reader, but I actually don’t know that many writers in real life, so I’ve never had the chance. :(

  2. Always people looking for beta readers on Absolute Write! =D

  3. Hello from Russia!
    Can I quote a post in your blog with the link to you?

  4. Hi Polprav. Quoting from posts is fine, as long as you give credit!


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