Monday, May 31, 2010
How do you pick your beta readers? Do you have any besides friends and family?
My brother is 18 months younger than I am, and loves to read. He doesn't always have time to read as much as he likes, but he will always take the time to read one of my books. I have heard advice saying that friends and family are not the best reviewers, because they tend to be biased. However in my brothers case, he takes that into account and always seems to come up with what I consider, useful feedback.
He read my latest novel, and really liked it, except for the ending. He felt that one of my characters, whom I killed off, needed to come back. I actually agree with him. I had the similar idea when I was writing the book, but then I went to see a superagent Donald Maass seminar. He said that most novels don't push the edge, don't tug at the heart strings hard enough, so I thought that maybe if this character remained dead, it would cause a much greater emotional reaction. However, it made the story much too tragic, instead of emotionally satisfying.
I have since changed the ending so that this character makes a surprise return, and I do like it a lot.
I have a couple more readers slogging through that version of the book, and we'll see what they come up with. I'm feeling pretty good about it now, but I'd like to hear from the new readers.
These two are people that I see at the gym 5 times a week. They are both heavy readers of popular fiction, so I respect their opinion about what's good and what's not. That's not to say that I will listen to everything they say without filtering it through what I like, but I would consider them more objective than friends and family.
That's all that I use right now. I'd like to get a couple more good beta readers, but it's tough to get readers that like your genre, and style of writing.
How do you pick your beta readers? How many do you have?