Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Your BETA Readers May Be Hurting You

Authors need outside readers. This is a 100% true statement. We need that feedback to make sure we are not missing anything and to insure that we are on the right track. This is part of the reason we form critique groups, or enter contests. We want to hear what other people say. But too many authors, in my opinion, are being misled by their BETA readers.

I spoke yesterday about the writing group I sat in on. Yes, these people were BETA readers and yes, these people had a ton of great intentions. They were trying hard. But when it came down to it, they mislead almost every author I listened in on. In almost all cases, I heard statement such as "I have never written a children's book and the last time I saw one was when I was in elementary school, but let me recommend..." Woah there buddy! We have a problem!

Getting this feedback from someone who does not know is like going to the plumbing department in Home Depot and asking for electrical advice. Or, it is like asking your "Cousins Steve and Ricky" for car advice and his car looks like this:

Would you really? (Sorry but I had to include the guys, but I promise you, they know their stuff!)

So, we understand that knowledge of the subject is important for your BETA readers, or hopefully you see that now. There is, however, another aspect you have to look at. Are they your friends?

Again, one of the things I heard during that writing workshop was how hard these authors were trying to make their statements so as to "not hurt the other person's feelings." Friends will do that. Having your own family read your story and get feedback often results in the same way. You know what I mean..."Honey, do you think this dress that I just bought today looks good on me?" Answer that the wrong way, guys, and you will have a lot of work to get back on her good side.

Sure, we might say we only tell people the truth, but when you are looking that person in the eyes, can you really? Probably not. 

When you are selecting your critique groups or your BETA readers, make sure that these people will be honest enough to tell you the truth. If they are sugar coating things or they are giving you advice for something they don't understand, you will be sending out a project that will be doomed to fail. 

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