Who is a Good Beta Reader?

11 Feb

I’ve had an amazing experience lately that I never would have expected. Over the Christmas and New Years holidays, I was able to hang out with a good friend from high school. He and I had a friendly academic rivalry going on then and when we went to schools far apart, we fell out of contact. There was a summer we were both interning around Washington DC and met up a few times and we’ve stayed close since then. He works five hours away from where I live, but when he comes home to see his parents we always meet up. Over New Years, I talked to him about my writing.

I have two completed manuscripts, one is a YA novel set in the 1920s and another one a contemporary piece about a young woman in her mid-20s going through a pregnancy. Neither were pieces I suspected a bachelor in his early 20s would be interested in reading. He offered me a beta read and at first I was skeptical, but I agreed to send him my YA novel anyway.

I think he’s read it three times now, and not because he loves it (though he’s assured me he enjoys it) but because he wanted to help me make it better. He’s sent me tons of texts about what he thought could improve and things that seemed inconsistent when he re-read it or that stuck out to him more than once. He even called me right after his second read-through to talk about the book.

It’s an understatement to say I was overwhelmed. I never expected this level of support from a high school friend that I see maybe four times a year. It makes me wonder if there are other people out there who would read my book, maybe a friend from college or someone I used to work with.

Reader, where have you found unexpected Beta readers? Is there a pattern we can discover of people who will read our manuscripts and provide some amazing feedback? I wonder where all these people are hiding.

Until next time, write on.


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