About Me # 3: Beta Reading

January 22, 2013 Lola's Ramblings 0

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So I really wanted to do another About Me post this week. Partly because I wanted to showcase my new About Me button, isn’t it gorgeous? The awesome Faye from the blog A Daydreamers thoughts made it and she even included the pony picture a friend of mine made for my blogbanner.
So I had planned to do this post about books and moving as I just moved to my new house, but then I realized that I would like to include some pictures in that post, for example of my epic bookcase room. My bookcase room is still full of boxes and things I have no place for yet are stacked in front of my books. So I guess I will write that post when I have unpacked a bit more. So that’s why I choose a different topic this week Beta Reading.
Necessity of Beta Reading
Beta reading is the reading of a book which isn’t published yet and a reader get’s asked to comment and critize it. In short you get the book to read and see if there are things that could be better about it. It really depends on the author what they want their beta readers to do, so beta readng does differ from author to author. 
I think that every author needs a few beta readers, okay maybe a bit more than a few, more like 10 or so. Because different people notice different things when beta reading a book. I also think having some diversity in your beta readers is a good thing. I think that if a book is beta read by a few beta readers this really improves the story. I have beta readed a few books already and it is really awesome to see how the book has improved after the beta reading. So in my opinion beta reading isn’t an option, it is a necessity. The best example I can give is when I beta readed a book and when I read the final version I thought it was so much better than the beta read and ended up giving it 5 stars instead of 4.
My opinion of beta reading
Let me start with stating that I love beta reading. I am a bit of a critical reader and I love it when I can read a book and the author actually listens to what I think can be improved in the story. I also like giving my critic. That may sound strange, but sometimes it is just nice to be able to point out all those little things that I think can be done better. If I beta read a book I do read it differently than I read a normal book. I always have a notebook next to me so that I can write down things that I think can be improved or thoughts and comments that I think about the when I am beta reading. Normally I am a critical reader, but when I am beta reading I feel like I am being even more critical. I feel honored when I am getting the chance to beta read a book and I want to do my job as good as possible.
My own experiences with beta reading
As mentioned before I have beta read a few books already, I will not mention which books I have beta readed, because for some reason I always feel like this is a touchy subject and I never know for sure whether I am allowed to mention it if I have beta readed a book or not. This also means that there aren’t pictures in this post.
Different methods of beta reading
The first thing I realized when I beta readed my second beta read book is that different authors prefer different methods of beta reading. Some authors prefer to get an e-mail whenever I have some new comments about their book. This method is really interactive, but the author must have much time to be able to do this and not too many beta readers at the same time. Another method is track changes in a word document. I have done this once, but this certainly isn’t my preferred method. When I do track changes I have the urge to mention every little thing and that really isn’t nessecary either. That author and me quickly realized this method didn’t work for me and swicthed to another method. The third method I have used when beta reading is beta reading the book first and then e-mailing a word document with all my comments to the author. The first and third method both work fine with me. The immediately e-mail method is more interactive, but the mail all comments afterwards works well too and is much handier when the author has more than a few beta readers.
How I beta read
So usually I beta read with the method that I write down all my comments in a word document and then e-mail this to the author. I always also write a review of the beta read version. This is mostly to give a better idea of what I thought of the book, because the beta read document mostly includes critic and some points I thought are awesome. I think including a few comments about things that I really liked in a beta read book is important, but I also think that including a review is a good way to make sure the author knows how I thought about the book even though I gave all that criticism.
Critic
So I am a bit of a critical reader and when beta reading I do mention many things that I think can be improved. I think an author must be able to withstand this critic and not feel demotivated by it. I think beta reading must be difficult for authors, because basically they give their book to reader to get critized.  I think some authors can’t really stand the critic they get from beta readers. I do understand this must be difficult, but I really believe that beta reading can make a book so much better. 
Beta reading a good or a bad book
I wonder what is more difficult, to beta read a book that I don’t enjoy or a book that I really love. Both have their difficulties I think. Luckily I have never beta readed a book that I didn’t like, I did however beta read a few books that I would give 3 stars. The problem with those 3 star beta reads is that I have lots of critic and having lots of comments to write down during reading really interrupts the reading. Sometimes it feels like every few pages there is something I should make a comment about. I have beta readed 2 books that I would give 5 stars already at the beta read stage. I think beta reading such a book is even more difficult, because I do want to do a good job, but when the book is so good already it is difficult to find even a few things that can be improved.
How do you get asked for a beta read
It really depends on the author and situation how you get asked for a beta read. I can’t really give a method that works always. I have one author from who I got a book for review and after reviewing it she asked for some in depth comments about some things and that got the conversation started and for her next book I was asked to beta read it. I have also had a few other authors that asked me to beta read a book after I reviewed one of their books. I also have one author from which I got an ARC to read for a blog tour and there where a few things that really bugged me about it, I decided to send this author a message and point out those things. After that I got asked to beta read his next books. It also happened to me a few times that I beta readed a book and after that never got asked to beta read any of the books by that author again. That happens. I also have a few authors from who I have beta readed two or more of their books.
Conclusion
I love beta reading. I am a bit of a critical reader and I like being able to express my thoughts about what can be done better. There are different methods of beta reading and I found out that beta reading with track and changes in word doens’t work for me. Beta reading an okay book is difficult because having much critic interrrupts the reading, but beta reading a very good book is also difficult because there isn’t much to comment on. There isn’t really one method that always work to get asked to beta read a book, it depends on the author and situation. I believe that beta reading can really improve a book.

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