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Why Beta readers suck

I realize the title may be shocking to some, but most authors 

who have been around for a while already know this be true.

...Beta readers suck. 

They are the most flaky, unreliable people on the planet. Yes, worse than civic workers who know they cannot be fired. Yes, worse than tradespeople who give you an eight-hour window of when they’ll show up. And then show up late anyway.

I have completed eleven novels with 4 more WIP. I have written almost a dozen short stories plus two dozen more blog posts. Know how many times my work has been Beta read? About six times, four of those were one person who was great... until she flaked on me.

Do you know how many times people have offered to Beta read for me? Not me asking them, but them offering? At least four dozen. I can go into my sent file right now and pull up three dozen or more emails where I was responding to them asking, and sometimes even begging me to send stories so they can read it. I never heard from any of them again.

Did they steal my work? I hope for their sake no. It’s all under copywrite protection, but I highly doubt that would be the case any way. The reason I needed Beta readers was to get feedback in the first place. To gain an outside perspective on what works, and what maybe doesn’t work in a given story. And yes, it’s all subjective, but if you get three or four Beta reads per book you can usually find the common ground on what works and what still needs work.

Back when I had the one really good beta reader I learned a lot from her. She is a many times over self-published author. Sometimes it was something major like tense (I was writing in present tense - very bad) or switching back and forth between first person or third person - Also very bad).

Or sometimes it was something minor that turned out to be major like when I found out I didn’t have to end every piece of dialogue with “she said, or “he exclaimed” or “She implied.” In fact, if it was a lengthy dialogue between two people you barely had to use it at all. And that little adjustment cleaned up the read and made it look and read so much better!

Now, I want to be balanced about this. The door swings both ways. Have I been a Beta reader? I have, many times over. And I am usually the one offering without having to be asked because there are so many writers out there who need support. We are supposed to be supporting each other because we are all in the same boat, but do we? Hell no!

And this is just me ranting about Beta readers. Don’t even get me started on people especially fellow authors who do not leave reviews, or if they do, just give it a rating but don’t bother writing anything to explain their ratings. Ratings are huge when it comes to promoting and selling one’s work. People are inherently lazy. They look at the cover and title first and then they look at the reviews. Our time has become so compressed and so important that reading choices have been boiled down to the simplest and lowest common denominator.

How hard is it read someone’s work and then go into Amazon or Goodreads and write a two or three sentence review? Is it really going to rob you of so much precious time that you’re not going to be able to complete your appointed rounds and end up throwing your entire life off kilter? Just write the fucking review.

Be kind to your fellow authors. They are just like you. Struggling to make a name for themselves in a thankless business. And karma is real when it comes to this type of stuff. You write reviews for people and let them know you did and guess what? They are going to return the favor. Everybody wins. Now go help another author out!

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