Sometimes it’s refreshing to put down your own work-in-progress and help someone else on theirs. Other than the obvious benefit of feeling great from helping someone else, there are other benefits to beta-reading. If you are having one of those moments when you don’t think your work is very good, beta-reading can be a real self-esteem booster. You can look at the other persons work and realize how similar your own writing is. You can help them on the parts that you do better, maybe you are an excellent writer of dialogue. You can give that person pointers and idea to make their dialogue less flat or help it stand out a bit more. They on the other hand are fantastic at describing setting. You can learn from them and incorporate a little bit of that into your own writing. Beta-reading is the writer’s equivalent of seeking counseling or getting anti-depressant medication.
I started doing beta-reading about 6-8 months ago when I volunteered to help Dyane Forde with her sequel. I was just starting out and read through the story, she had specific questions that I attempted to answer. When I was finished reading the section she had emailed me, I gave her my overall opinion and what I liked and disliked about the passages. The very first day Purple Marrow came out I eagerly pulled up my amazon shop and purchased the Kindle edition so I could read the first book of the series.
Last month I did another larger beta-reading project for Zenobia Southcombe. I did hers a little differently. I had decided to take beta-reading to be more like my version of editing I my book. It made more sense to make notes as I was reading, I printed out Zee’s book and wrote my ideas and suggests in the margins of the page. I enjoyed reading Zee’s book, because it reminded me where I was as a writer (4 years ago at 28 yrs old). I look forward to watching Zee develop her voice and confidence as a writer more thoroughly and can’t wait to see her work on the shelves one day.
Yesterday, I was back at it again working on another beta reading project for Christine Campbell. I had volunteered to help her with her NaNoWriMo project from 2013. It was a full length novel. I utilized the tracked changes in MS Word and wrote comments as I was reading. I enjoyed reading her book and look forward to when it is published. I can’t wait to see the editing changes she makes to polish the book to make it shine even brighter. If you haven’t had a chance to read any of Christine Campbell’s books I recommend you go out and read one today!
This last beta-reading was a bit different for me, Christine and I write in similar genres. It was interesting to compare our writing. It made me feel great to know my work measures up to a published writer. She does a better job at writing suspense, but that only leaves room for me to grow and develop. I have always steered away from suspense, because I never thought I had the talent. Reading Christine’s work makes me wonder if I have underestimated myself.
I have learned that I enjoy beta-reading, getting that chance to see another writer’s work in an unfinished state. It’s an honor to be trusted enough to read someone’s work before it’s out on the market. I feel extremely honored to be a part of these fine women’s writing. Thank all of you for the opportunity to help and to learn!