Let’s talk about betas for a minute… No, not those colorful fish that occupy offices and college dorm rooms. Beta readers. If you’re not familiar with the term, don’t worry, beta readers often times work tirelessly in the sidelines with authors to help polish and make an author’s work the best it possibly can be. Beta readers receive a manuscript well before publication and help the author by reading it and discussing characterization, plot, consistency, or any number of issues. Basically, Santa has elves and writers have beta readers.
If this is your first time hearing about beta readers you may be wondering how this differs from an editor, another important member of the publication process. The simplest way to put it, is that betas often times do not function as editors. They aren’t looking at the grammar or spelling of the work. They’re also usually in the author’s target audience and their opinions are employed as feedback to assess what the “typical reader” may be thinking and reacting to the work. Of course, there are many different relationships between authors and betas, this is just my experience and application.
So why do authors have beta readers?