When’s the Right Time to Beta?

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Beta readers are an important part of the writing process, but perhaps you’re a new writer and wondering where exactly they work into the scheme of things. Well, that really depends on you.  Personally, I have a couple sets of beta readers and I use them in several different places while completing a novel.

When my rough draft is finally done, I use one or two betas to look for plot holes and to check for unanswered questions and the continuity of the story lines.  I know others who use their betas on more of a chapter by chapter basis during editing. The author edits and passes along a chapter at a time for their betas to read and comment on and then the author makes the changes as they go rather than doing everything at the end.

After my initial beta read through, I do more editing and then send off a second draft to my writing partner and favorite beta reader, Patricia Lynne.  She leaves me all sorts of comments and questions and adds (or removes) pesky commas and things of that nature. It’s super helpful and the comments let me know if she finds something funny or if a joke falls flat.

Then there’s another round of edits from me, then to an actual editor, then I make their changes and theeeeennnnn to final beta readers to check for tiny little mishaps that may have been missed and then it’s on to the ARC for early readers.

Some authors only use beta readers at the end. Some use the same set of beta readers throughout the whole process. Some, like me, use different beta readers at different points.  As an author you need to figure out what works best for you.  There’s certainly no harm in using more than one and putting them to work at different points in your process. Like anything else along the road to publication, each author has to figure out how they want to go about getting to the end and when to pull other people into the process. Trial and error, put it to the test.

How many beta readers do you “employ” and when do you put them to work?

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3 responses »

  1. I like to use fellow writers as critique partners first, while I’m writing. Then I give the entire manuscript to three or four Betas who aren’t writers. They give a totally different kind of feedback. Finally, I hire an editor to proofread. It’s great hearing about how other writers use their resources.

    • My fav. beta is my writing partner and you’re right, I think having another author look things over makes a big difference than just another reader.

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