Why do I need a beta reader?

betasThe third draft of Farewell to Kindness will be finished this weekend; probably later today. Some wonderful people have volunteered to read it for me, and I’ve been fishing around for clues on what I should say when I brief them. I found a fabulous resource by Belinda Polland at Small Blue Dog Publishing. It explains what a beta reader is, and why we need one. It then goes on to link to more articles about how to find beta readers and how to brief them. Great stuff. Here’s Belinda’s list of reasons:

The fact is, we spend so much time on our own manuscripts that we can’t see them objectively — no matter how diligently we self-edit. These can be some of the outcomes (there are plenty more):

  • We create anticipation or an expectation early in the book, but forget to deliver on it.
  • We describe events in a way that is clear to us but not clear to a reader who can’t see the pictures in our head. (At least, we hope they can’t see them. Are you looking inside my head??? Eek!)
  • We leave out vital steps in an explanation and don’t realise it, because we know what we mean.
  • The characters in our books (whether fictional, or real as in a memoir or non-fiction anecdote) are not convincing, because we know them so well we don’t realise we haven’t developed them thoroughly on paper.
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