Wow! This morning my finger hit the Send button and I transmitted sixteen of my twenty-one chapters (the others will be gone by Wednesday) down the electronic highway to a very good friend. She is my first beta reader.

The first time I heard the words beta reader I was confused, but in the interests of keeping my social standing intact, I kept my ignorance to myself. I could have checked it out on Google, but by the time I got home I'd completely forgotten ever having heard the phrase.

It was sometime later when, slumped in off mode and watching The Big Bang Theory, I heard Leonard explaining to Penny that scientists' results were checked by someone who had no input to the experiment. That person was called a beta (here my brain completely fails me) thingy/scientist/checker. Well, you get the idea. And I remembered the phrase beta reader. Cogs shifted and all became clear.

At that point in time I had a group of friends and we all wrote short stories. But time has moved on and I now have a novel. However, asking someone to give you feedback on a book – for free – is not something you can just ask anyone to do. I feel lucky in that I have two beta readers although the second one doesn’t yet know his duties will start this week. The ideal number of beta readers seems to vary but if you can find several readers whose opinion you value, consider yourself very fortunate.
The qualities of a beta reader should include knowledge about grammar, punctuation, style and be able to discuss weaknesses in your character and plot development. This is a tall order. I imagine if you’re that good you’ll be getting paid to do it. But a beta reader is indispensable when it comes to reader feedback. Readers know when a story works or not, when a character isn’t coming across as a genuine person and these are vital points for a writer to hear on the journey to publication.

I’ve more or less met my deadline, and I did learn a lot from working at a fast speed this week. Okay, I should have started sooner, and paced myself better, but life is as life is. Looking on the bright side, working this way has given me a better overview.

My inner editor works slowly, takes forever to be satisfied and each reading feeds their pernicketyness. Although, credit given where credit is due, I don’t think there can be a writer in existence whose characters pause, turn and look and much as mine do. Or rather did. All pauses, turnings and most lookings are now past history.

So, I’m not there yet, (although it feels like I am) as I still have a few chapters to finish. After sending these off, I'll take a break. It’s not so much that I want the characters out of my head, I just need  some breathing out time.

I heard the other day about a cloud appreciation society (weather program plus photography interest) which sparked a thought. If there is any justice in this world of writing, there will one day be a beta reader appreciation society.

My genuine thanks go to my own beta readers – you know who you are – and to all of those legions of beta readers who have contributed to the improvement of endless books simply because you love stories.

Today’s Haiku:
white lacy clusters
cover limbs lifted skywards -
elderflowers bloom

My book Gold Dragon Haiku is available as an ebook at the Amazon Kindle Store. Check it out:


If you are researching beta readers, this is a good informative blog:

A lovely blog to read – just for the fun of it – loaded, of course, with gorgeous photos is:

For all story lovers out there, good reading, and for those of you who write, good writing.

1 comment:

  1. Teagen, I appreciate your thoughts on beta readers. I'm new to these ideas but not to writing. I hope to engage my army of alpha and beta readers as well as offering my services at some point. It takes a strong commitment to this process.Good luck with all of your writing efforts.


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