It’s your baby, and you’re letting somebody else tell you what they like and don’t like about it. Who does that to their children? The same people who know they must “kill your darlings”. Thank you Stephen King for telling us how it is. For many, beta readers are a must. For some, they are a waste of time. You get to decide!
I wish I had known a thing or two about betas when I first started this adventure. A quick internet search told me that betas read manuscripts and gave feedback. Well, that sounded fantastic! What I didn’t know was that beta readers are generally reserved for polished manuscripts. Alpha Readers are for that first read. Critique partners are for bouncing ideas off of and discussing your work. These definitions vary greatly, but if you want to get technical, I asked for the wrong thing at the wrong time. Yeah, I’d polished my manuscript. But I hadn’t actually done the restructuring a first draft needs in order to be anything but a first draft as far as plot goes. Furthermore, I found out how little I knew about self-edits.
Thankfully, two of my five beta readers were excellent critique partners, and they became great writer friends. They even put up with and participated in my awkward, sleep-deprived Facebook messages and accidental video calls. *Note to self: SLEEP IS GOOD. Take care of yourself.* Mind you, I’ve never done a video call before and would probably freak out if it happened for real. As it was, I frantically pushed all the wrong buttons trying to hang up.
Some things I learned about the process of matching up with people to read or trade: