Why I don’t use Beta Readers #WriterWednesday #AmWriting

Here’s a post that challenges received wisdom on beta readers from D. E. Haggerty. What do you think?

D.E. Haggerty

As many of you know, I’ve just finished the draft of my latest novel (insert shameless plug for new novel here). Now that the manuscript is off to the editor, it should be time to send the ARC to beta readers. Notice me rushing off to do that? No? That’s because I no longer use beta readers. Oh, the shame! Who the hell do I think I am not using beta readers?!?

I could go into a long background story of all the mistakes I’ve made with beta readers and even the heartbreaking story of losing a good friend over it all, but I’m just going to get to the heart of the matter.

Beta Reader _1

Reasons I don’t use Beta Readers:

Timing. In order to plan my book marketing properly, there is a two-month gap between the time I finish the novel and it goes to the editor…

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Filed under Editing your novel, looking for literary editors and publishers, Myths and Truths for writers, Plot Development for writers, Writers' groups, Writing, writing novels

4 responses to “Why I don’t use Beta Readers #WriterWednesday #AmWriting

  1. T Francis Sharp

    I think the key to beta readers is to know what you need from them. It is a risky proposition however. Confidence in one’s work is a fragile thing. Not all beta readers are the same. I agree that indiscriminate beta readers ought be avoided at all costs. Even blockbuster books have their distracters, as not all books are for all readers. It calls for a certain level of trust. Trust that the reader gets what you are trying to do, a reader who understands the genre somewhat, and a reader who appreciates the voice and style of the writer. And that’s important, I think we’ve all read book by writers that we just didn’t get or appreciate. Steven King is a great example for me. Just don’t like his writing style. My loss, I’m sure. By trust, I don’t mean someone who reads it and exclaims, great. Not at all. But someone trusted to be somewhat compatible with ones target audience. Because a good beta read will give the writer many points to ponder. And too mny beta readers will give you a chaotic mishmash of conflicting opinions. It’s already difficult enough to deal with the criticism and suggestions from trusted sources without taking on the headache of undoubtedly well meaning but unqualified beta readers who might quibble about stylistic choices or narration. So, yes to beta readers, but the process of choosing those readers needs to be conducted with much care.


    • Agreed, but you often don’t know whether a given reader will have those qualities until after the fact. Still, anyone who will read and comment on an entire novel draft pro bono is a gift!


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