Be Your Own Beta-reader

I’m not sure if most writers do this and I’m slow to the game on this, but I’ve started to beta-read my writing, and it’s been brilliant.

For those unfamiliar with beta-reading, it’s when you give your work in progress (WIP) to a few different readers for them to check out. Their responsibility is to read the work and provide feedback on whether or not the story is believable, if there are any character flaws, maybe missing pieces, sensitivity issues, and so on. Often times, an author will provide a set of questions for the beta-reader to answer once they’ve completed the story. This helps the author then go back to revising the story to get it into tip-top shape.

My introduction with beta-reading last year was a strange one. I couldn’t find good beta-readers. I was barely in the writing community and most of the readers I found were flakey. I hardly knew where to begin. When I did find some, it was too close to the publication date, that the deadline left me more stressed than I’ve been in my life. And even with feedback, I was hesitant to change things so late in the game. But with having people read my story, I found it difficult to come up with questions other than, did you like it and what worked and what didn’t work?

However, since I’ve published, I’ve beta-read for a few different authors, all of whom have provided extensive questions that not only helps them revise, but also helped me as a reader properly analyze the story. I’ve learned what is expected of me as a reader, and what I should expect of my future beta-readers.

So now, since publishing, I’ve worked on three new projects. I decided that before giving them to others that I was going to beta-read my work first. I’ve done this with two out of three projects so far. (The third is a full-length novel that I haven’t had time to dive into yet.) It’s been essential to my revising techniques as sometimes I don’t know what I’m going in to revise. But now I’m going in with a clear set of intentions.

I use the program calibre to convert my documents into .mobi files for my Kindle. (I honestly couldn’t tell you if there are other programs.) Once the story is loaded on my Kindle, it suddenly becomes much more permanent, “published” in a sense. That’s when all the spelling and grammar issues come to life, as well as the storyline. I’ve even been able to separate myself from these works as if I didn’t write them, allowing myself to be a bit harsher on what works and what doesn’t work.

So then, with all my notes on my Kindle, I am able to go back to the original document and put some work into revising.

My process:

Write

Read through

Create beta-questions

Read through on Kindle

Answer questions

Revise

If you haven’t tried this before, I highly recommend it. Not only is it going to be better for my beta-readers because I’ll know the precise questions to ask, but it’ll make the editing and revision easier for me, as well as my editor.


Have you done this before? Is it helpful to you? What’s your writing process like?

Chelsea Lauren

Chelsea Lauren is addicted to drinking coffee, writing in cafes, and walking the beach. A New York native, she recently moved to Melbourne, FL and found having conversations with her character’s on the beach is the perfect cure to writer’s block. To learn more about her, check out “About Me.” Her debut novel, Underneath the Whiskey, is now available on Amazon.

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