Writing a book is always a great source of pride. After all the happiness, however, comes the realisation that the work is not finished at all, but it’s to edit. While writing the first draft it is good to feel free, to put all our creativity on paper without any prejudice towards the final result.
Plot holes, grammatical mistakes, filler scenes that do not move the plot forward. Everything is allowed until the end.
Before publication, however, one must sit down calmly and reread carefully, watching with a fresh eye that the story flows properly.
The best way to be more impartial is to step away from the story for a few weeks and only then return with a clear head.
But speaking frankly, we could detach ourselves for a year as well, but we would only have to re-read a few lines and all the writing would come back to us. Our love for the characters and the events does not change and can often cloud our judgement.
To help us there are wonderful individuals, the beta-readers.
What are beta-readers?
Beta-readers are people who take the time to read your book carefully. Once they are done, their job is to give you concise and straightforward opinions on what is going well and what needs revision.
They are very helpful in giving you a good framing of the plot, they can answer questions such as:
- Are the characters’ characters consistent and believable?
- Do their motivations make sense?
- Does the story read well or are there parts where it is difficult to continue?
- What are the best parts?
These are examples, but I advise you to write a list of questions, more suited to your story, and ask them to whoever will help you.
At this point, there is only one question left to ask, where (and how) do we find willing victims to help us in this quest?
Friends are the first people who come to mind when we need help. In this case, however, they are not always the most suitable choice.
First of all, harsh truth, not everyone has friends. Writers are on average more introverted people, very locked in their own world, and this often means that they are also lonely people.
But now, let’s talk about the writers who have that option.
Well to you all I say is, choose well.
Often not all friends are for everything, one may be the best for matters of the heart, the other gives the best support for rational arguments, and the other is the perfect beta-reader.
The characteristics that the latter must have are, honesty (if he sweetens the pill he risks not really helping you), attention to detail (for this kind of work you need special attention that lasts throughout the book, if one read a few pages a month one would not achieve much) and, perhaps most crucially, passion for reading.
No eye is better here than one accustomed to reading stories by great writers, so if you have this you will be in good hands.
If this is not possible for you, there are other methods.
Facebook writing groups
Nothing is better than an unknown writer to get a good story corrected and promoted. Having no emotional ties to the author (you) the reader will be honest and unbiased, plus his or her knowledge in writing can do wonders for the development of your book.
Facebook is full of groups where people exchange advice and opinions and I am sure many would offer to help you. For some extra incentive, you can offer to do an exchange, they read your story and you read theirs.
Remember that you are still talking to a stranger so in case the person doesn’t convince you, don’t send them your story.
Tiktok is very useful for several reasons, especially when it comes to talking to a large number of people with just a few clicks.
In the tiktok profiles of readers and writers, you can easily find entire comment sections full of nice people ready to help each other.
Intrigue them with details in your story and I assure you that many people, of all ages, will want to read it.
Find a popular profile, go to the comments section and simply ask if someone would be willing to read your book and be your beta-reader. If someone accepts, follow their profile, get them to follow you back and then write to them. (on tiktok you cannot chat in private unless you follow each other).
* You can’t send the book file on tiktok so if anything, ask for the reader’s email and send it there. *
Fiverr and Upwork
In the end, if none of these methods worked for you, all that remains are the paid options. These do not have to be the last to be considered, because they can bring many advantages, for example:
- Unbiased opinion from an outsider (whatever you say will be paid for so you won’t lose anything by being honest)
- You can decide how long they should take to read the story and give you their opinions
- You can choose the questions they have to answer and there is no danger that they will reoffend
- They will take up their time and concentration on your story, so (if you find the right person) they will pay attention to the smallest details.
The most popular sites where you can find all kinds of services on the web are Fiverr and Upwork. On both you can place an ad writing down what you are looking for and then you will choose the best person from the different candidates.
If you want to save yourself the search and want to make sure you have the best focus and professionalism, you can write directly to my email (which you will find in the ‘about me’ section of the blog) and exactly what you need.
These, in my opinion, are all great tips. But remember not to take literally every opinion a beta-reader will give you, at the end of the day opinions are personal and unless several people tell you the same thing, even a beta-reader could be wrong.
The story is yours so if something doesn’t sit well with you, don’t feel obliged to change pieces that are important to you.