Why You Should Beta-Read

    I've had the pleasure of beta-reading or critiquing various novels, or parts of them, as well as short stories. And you know what? It's amazing. With every single new piece I read my admiration for the writing community grows. It takes so much courage to share your work with someone, let alone be open to comments and critique.

    Though beta-reading can take up some time, it's thrilling to be able to read fresh and original work from your writing friends. While the writer benefits massively from beta-readers, beta-readers gain a lot too!

    Today I'll be outlining five reasons why you might consider helping a writer out by beta-reading!



1) Free book(s)!!!

    This one is fairly self-explanatory. If you're like the stereotypical bookworm/bookdragon and always complain about never having enough money to buy books, then here's your answer: beta-reading. It can be a toss-up sometimes on whether you'll get a more polished or a rougher draft, but the only thing you have to pay with is time and energy. Your wallet will thank you!

2) See Strengths and Weaknesses in Your Own Writing

   Have you ever heard someone say that in order to write, you must read? This is great wisdom, and I think it applies beyond polished, published books. When you beta-read, you're exposed to stories in a raw state. You get to see both their flaws and strengths, and in doing so, see them in your own writing.

   Maybe the story you're beta-reading has excellent characters with so much depth it's awe-worthy. Or maybe it's lacking a little bit in tension that carries the plot along. Or maybe the world-building is fantastic, and sprinkled with little details that make the world come alive. Either way, seeing these strengths and weaknesses when I beta-read always makes me reflect back on my own writing. Do my characters have this much depth? Do I have enough tension? How is my world-building?



3) Understand a Writer's Voice

    I used to think I didn't have a voice, or it was so subtle I couldn't find it in my own work. Upon reading the stories by writers also at similar places on their writing journey, I was awe-struck. I saw how different every writer's voice is; how it permeates every sentence, every word choice, every choice of punctuation. 

    Don't believe you have a voice? Beta-read, and see that yes, you do.

4) Be a Part of Someone's Journey

    This is one of my favourite aspects of beta-reading and critiquing. You are there to help a writer strengthen their story, talk about it from a fresh point-of-view, and offer assistance in any way you can. How awesome is it that you get to be part of a story that will (most likely!) become a published novel some day? Ultimately the writer is in charge of making decisions and writing, but you can take satisfaction in knowing you were there to offer a hand when they needed it.



5) Show Some Love!

    As much as feedback and critique is vital, a little encouragement can go a long way. You never know when a writer might flip through your comments on a rough day and see some positivity that will lift their spirits. Writing is a hard gig, and as writers we always crave positive feedback. Beta-reading enables you to encourage a writer on their hard journey, and help them make their story the best it can be.



Have you ever beta-read? If yes, do you think it's helped you improve as a writer? If not, I hope you'll consider beta-reading for a writer in need some time! Have you ever had beta-readers before, and are they a great encouragement to you?
Have a beautiful day, and good luck with your writing! <3

Comments

  1. I love beta reading for all of these reasons, plus it's a great way to make writer friends.

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  2. Beta reading is awesome! I wish I had more time for it though... :/

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    1. Yeah, that's always the reason we get pulled back, isn't it? Busy times. XD Thank you for commenting Gray!

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  3. I definitely agree with all these points! Especially about your voice--I used to think I didn't have a voice either, but reading other peoples works has made me realize how different every writer is. It's so cool! :D

    And I definitely agree with the last point. :) Thank you for lifting my spirits and being such a helpful and encouraging beta! <3

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    1. I know, I love how unique every writer's voice is! You really have to read others' work to be able to see yours. You have a lovely voice! <3

      Nawww thank you! You've been such a great encouragement to me as well, and I'm so happy to be your beta and friend. <333 Thanks so much for commenting Liz!

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  4. I love beta reading for my writing group! It's one of the awesome things we as a writing community get to participate in! It can take a lot of time, but it is super fun and makes me excited for the future, when the story will end up on the shelves in stores.

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    1. Yes, it's awesome! We're so lucky to be able to participate in it and become part of a writer's and story's journey. :) Time is a small (or sometimes large!) price we have to pay though. Thanks so much for commenting Sarah!

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  5. I haven't beta read before, but I would like to. I'm just a bit afraid of committing to doing it and then not having the time or hurting their feelings or something. But I should try it sometime soon.

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    1. It's a wonderful experience! I understand your worries, but I've found that writers usually give a large amount of time to read their work, and most are very open to critique, so being honest is the best policy. I hope you try it sometime! Thanks for commenting Rachel! :)

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  6. So true! However I do try not to have "free books" as my primary goal? Because that would cause me to sign up for more than I can handle, and then I wouldn't put my very best effort into it :P But obviously I wouldn't sign up unless I was really interested in the first place! xD And one other reason it's great to do it, is that if you are considering someday offering editing services and charging for it, this is your practice and you can have some people vouch for your skills!

    Lisa
    thisinkwell.blogspot.com

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    1. Haha yeah, it can be very easy to over-commit! I've done that quite a few times... XD Yes, that's another excellent reason! It's always good to have lots of experience and support behind you. Are you hoping to offer editing skills one day? :) Thanks for commenting Lisa!

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  7. i'm a hobby book reviewer, so far no one's approached me for that (beta read) yet... so fingers crossed

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    1. Fingers crossed! I'm sure that will happen one day. :D Thank you for commenting Ailyn!

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  8. This is so true! I've learned a LOT through beta reading and I wouldn't trade it for anything. And I agree with you -- being a part of a write'rs journey is one of the coolest things. You're helping their book become better and one step closer to being published! *happy sigh* It's just so awesome and exciting. <3

    katie grace
    a writer's faith

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    1. Thanks Katie! Isn't it amazing? I love the thought of one day seeing their story out in the world, sitting proudly on bookshelves and thinking "I was a part of that." :D Thanks so much for commenting! <3

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  9. Yes, great points, Melissa! I'm looking forward to HOPEFULLY beta reading Golden Revenge for you! <3

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    1. Thanks Lila! :) Yes, I am very excited to have you on the beta-reading team; you'll be of great help to me! <3 Thank you so much for commenting!

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  10. Great list, I have actually never beta read yet but I feel like it might be happening soon... :)

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    1. Thanks Anna! Yes, I'm sure it will happen soon. :) Thank you for commenting!

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  11. You're a great beta reader, Melissa. ^ ^ It's one of the reasons why I've asked you more than once to beta read. You're good at balancing criticism with feedback. :) I always feel great after I read your critique. ^ ^

    storitorigrace.blogspot.com

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    1. Awww thanks Victoria! I'm so glad. <3 That makes me super happy to know that I strike a good balance. :) Thank you so much for commenting!

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  12. I've never done any beta reading, but I definitely feel like I should after reading this post! For one thing it would probably help with my own writing to be able to see someone else's rougher work (I've always felt like I don't really have a specific writing voice either!), but also it would be nice to feel like you've helped someone else on their writer journey :)
    Great post, as always! :)

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    1. Thanks Laura! :D I definitely recommend beta-reading, especially if you feel like you don't have a voice. And for all the other reasons! I'm sure you'll love it. XD Thank you for commenting!

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