Built in Betas

So, when I first started getting used to the idea of potentially marketing myself and my writing I began to scramble for betas to read some of my novels. The lovely blogging friends I had made at the time proved to be valuable betas. They critiqued my work honestly and made fabulous suggestions to improve on the pieces I had them reading. But…they were not my target audience.

I write young adult novels and needed some young adult betas to get a more accurate feel of the appeal of my work. I had friends and relatives with bookworm children living in their houses who were willing to help out. I seized up though, cold feet got the better of me. I never passed anything on for them to read because I couldn’t bare the thought of someone who knew me or knew of me personally reading and hating my work.

Flash forward many years. I have in my own house two of my own children who have over the years watched me write with great curiosity but never were old enough to read my work, until now. Tonight I passed my laptop first to my son and then to my eldest daughter and asked them to read just the first five pages. Why? Because that is what the agent I am getting ready to send my query off to requires. I wanted their impression. Did it hold their interest? Did it flow? What is good/bad about it?

My son gave it a thumbs up and asked if he could read more. I took that as a good sign as he is hit or miss with what books hold his attention. He is very diplomatic though and would not give any negative comments.

My daughter is always very direct and does not share her brother’s diplomatic filter. She immediately told me which parts she liked, what part she found confusing and what she wants to know more about. 

I feel quite pleased about sharing my work with them and will be less hesitant in the future.

Who do you use as your betas (if anyone)? Do you try to use different types of betas to gain different insights?


About Billie Jo Schinnerer

Born and raised on the edge of the Helderberg Escarpment in eastern New York. Formerly a teacher. Moved to the North West area of England in 2003. Now a mother of three who doesn’t really know what she wants to be when she grows up.
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