BETA READING 101 BY JQM
This is my FREE introductory course to BETA Reading by JQM.
Before I begin, let me honest with you. I am no expert on editing. My degree is in Anthropology with an Archaeology Emphasis and dual minors in Russian and Geology. I only went to the mandatory English classes in high school and college, and that was many years ago.
What I have learned about BETA READING I have taught myself or have been told by authors with more experience. So here is my informal opinion on BETA reading.
What Is BETA Reading?
Well, that is a good question. Is Beta Reading content editing? Is it proof reading? Is it simply reading a book before it is published?
Well, BETA reading is when you have a book ready to send to your publisher or self publish. But it is not quite ready for publication. When you want a second opinion on the story.
So you ask a trusted friend or friends to look over your manuscript for a much needed second opinion.
What Do You Do Expect From BETA Readers?
You have such fantastic questions. Usually when I receive a manuscript from a friend, the author has expressed to me whatever concerns they have about the story, any specific items or details they want me to look for within the text.
On the other hand, when I send out a request for BETA readers, I am almost always looking for the same thing every time. To make sure that the ideas in my head translated well on paper. I do not always succeed, and my BETA readers help me figure out where I messed up, and we talk through ways to fix my literary blunders.
Is BETA Reading And Content Editing The Same?
No. Content editing is a little bit LOTS more intense. Content editing, as a friend of mine once explained, helps you restructure a lost story. It is very time consuming, and often very expensive.
However, BETA reading is reading a manuscript and commenting your thoughts, suggestions for improvement, etc.
What Do You Do When You BETA Read?
Your questions keep getting better and better. I love literature! I love to discuss literature. And I love helping my friends write better stories.
So to help my friends improve their writing prowess, I offer to BETA read stories. Usually on barter or just as favor.
I use either Google Docs or Word Documents, pending on what the author has to send me. I have no preference.
So, for example’s sake. Let’s my good friend in the Realm of Rai, Amanda Adams, Creature of Rai, Member of the Unicorn Clan asked me to BETA read her newest essay titled, ‘Why Unicorns Are Best.’
Amanda’s BETA reading request would look something like: “Hey JQM. I know your super busy right now, but can you look over my new essay?”
My initial reply would be: “Sure. You need help with anything specific?”
Amanda: “No. I just need a mortal’s perspective. Any feedback you can give me would be great. Here is the link to the essay on Google Drive. LINK-X-Y-Z. Thanks.”
Next time I am on my PC and have time to work on a writing project, I click on the link, and open the document. I only read the document through once. And as I read it, I use the comment feature to share my thoughts.
When I BETA read I try to never change the initial text. I only select either what I am commenting upon or would like to see edited, and make the changes in a comment box.
What Types of Comments Do I Make?
I make 3 main comments.
First, I share my initial unfiltered thoughts as a reader. That is my most common type of comment. Why do I this? To give the author a chance to see the types of initial responses potential readers will have. A fellow author did this for me on a previous BETA read exchange, about two years ago, and I liked her thoughts as a readers so much that I have been doing it ever since.
Second, I point any places where I think the author can improve the flow and content of the story.
Third, and the very least, I point out any grammatical errors.
I am not a professional editor. I am simply a Fantasy Author who enjoys to BETA read for my friends. Nothing I said above is fact, it is simply my honest opinion that I am sharing to help out novice authors who are unfamiliar with the BETA reading process.
If you have any specific questions about BETA reading, you can find me on Messenger, Facebook, my blog, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Have a great day!