So you may or may not have heard of these words before when scrolling through other writer’s Instagram feeds, stories or even on google. But what exactly is an Alpha or Beta Reader?
An Alpha Reader, is the very first person to go through your unedited first draft. So you’ve come from NANOWRIMO or a whole many years of getting that book up to par and you finally want to start thinking of starting your edits. You can’t give it to your editor like this, it will cost you a fortune that you might not have.
What with all the mistakes and spelling mishaps, the plot holes and raw jumble of the unedited version of your story. Plus you need someone, a friendly someone to hold your frightened little hands and tell you if you’re on the right track based on your plot idea.
Yes, they’re superheroes in short walking among men. Alpha Readers are there to check for the consistency of your story plot, characters, pacing of the story and how it all ties together in the end. Whatever feedback your Alpha Reader gives you will be to help you in going back to your hermit cave and enduring your second draft.
They determine what happens next with your story.
Oh okay. What about the Betareader?
Aaaaaaaaa… Now this one is special. A Beta Reader will not only go through your second draft, they’ll be reading it as if they’re your reader.
Unlike the ruthless editor who will be checking for punctuation, grammar, spelling, character flaws and inconsistencies and taking note of any gaping plot holes, the Betareader is easy.
They won’t be looking at it more as a writer but as a casual reader, asking themselves, do I like this story? What do I like or don’t I like about it? What do I wish was there or wasn’t there; all useful information by the way that you will need to know if the story accomplished whatever message or mood you wanted it to pass to your reader.
So consider the Betareader kind of like a mock reader.
Why do I need an Alpha or Beta Reader?
A Beta or Alpha reader may not be a professional, yes, but then again, neither are your readers, which makes them the best kind of person to deal with before you go public.
Whether you’re publishing a book and want to start commissioning an editor to go through your draft which needs money, or you just want to post it on your social media or blog, you want to be sure that you’re giving out what you’re absolutely proud of. Am I right?
As an Alpha or Beta Reader, it is their job to do just that for you. They provide advice and comments in the opinions of an average reader to make sure that you turn your first draft/ written piece into your first love. So kind of like a best friend would do just before you left the house, making sure you don’t go out looking like you have a grudge against mirrors. They got you.
Then of course you, the author, get to use this feedback to fix any remaining issues with plot, pacing, and consistency. They also serve as a sounding board for you to see if the book has had the intended emotional impact that you wanted it to have. So make sure you choose someone you trust to do this. It is after all your baby.
And I mean, if you can have at least five readers tell you that the book is good, then it must be good right and the opposite would likewise be the same. So give it a try. Let then be one of those five and help you get your baby walking on its two feet. The world needs to read your story, so get it out there Ink Slinger. Tell your story.
Your biggest fan,