Writing Tip: Beta Readers

The writing community is filled with some amazing and supportive people. You’ll find that many authors will answer questions for days if it means we can help someone on their journey. I’ve learned a lot since I started writing and two tips for those seeking to indie publish are Editing and Beta Readers.

I cannot stress enough how important it is to hire an editor. Getting friends and family is great but an editor can make the difference between readers finishing the book or not. Beta readers are another step that helps polish your work with an invaluable outside opinion. This brings me to introduce Sarah Jane.

The story of how I met Sarah isn’t as entertaining as a tale of a decade-long friendship or two strangers bumping into each other. We met through Instagram shortly after I first joined. Upon first glance, I remember seeing posts about wanting to teach history, pagan music, and incredible writing snippets. We’ve had a lot of conservations over the years and though we are hundreds of miles apart, I’d like to think we’d be concert buddies for life and great friends if we lived closer.

Sarah was even an arc reader for Dark Days and asked me to be a beta reader for her novel BEWARE, BEWARE, LA FEMME MYSTÈRE. It was an upper YA Outlander-style novel without page filler/fluff to drag out the story. Her attention to detail was impeccable and the story had me wanting more and not just another book. I wanted a series. Sarah is truly a gifted and talented writer.

In addition to writing, Sarah has started a Beta Reading service and has been kind enough to answer a few questions.

Q: What inspired you to start critiquing?
Sarah:
I had been working with a few amazing critique partners while editing my manuscript and really enjoyed the “critiquing” aspect of the partnership. Not only did I get first peaks at my friends’
incredible books, but I also got to watch their manuscripts transform from rough to final drafts,
molded by the honest and constructive feedback that I provided. It was really inspiring to me
and made me feel like I was a part of something magical.
After purchasing a first-chapter critique for my own manuscript on Fiverr before querying, I
realized that there is a big market for cheap, professional, and non-committal (as in, chapter-by-
chapter rather than a whole book) manuscript critiquing. I launched my gig on Fiverr in
December and have had a constant flow of orders ever since! What’s better than a career in
reading?

Q: Why do you consider this an important part of the writing process?
Sarah:
When it comes to writing, we all need a second (and third and fourth) set of eyes on our work.
Even the big guys. The critique is a pivotal aspect of story development because it points out the
larger, more fundamental issues with story development (plot holes, lack of character arc and
autonomy, worldbuilding, redundancy, pacing, etc) that every early draft and many later drafts
have. These are things authors often miss in their own writing because… it’s their writing and
they know what they intended to say. It is the critiquer’s job to say, “Hey, this just isn’t working.
Here is how we can fix it.”

Q: Can you describe the services that you offer?
Sarah:
I currently offer two services: first-chapters critiques and query critiques. For the former, I will
read and provide detailed, constructive feedback and editing suggestions inline for up to five
chapters at a time. I have optional add-ons such as an overall reader report, character analyses,
and historical fact-checking. For the latter, I will read and provide constructive feedback on a
client’s query letter to make it sparkle before sending it to agents. A client can also add on a
synopsis critique.

I want to thank Sarah for taking the time to answer these questions and I highly encourage you to seek her out. I know that she’ll provide you with the quality and attention that your work deserves. Click on the links before for more.

By Sarah Jane

Sarah Jane IG

Published by dwsaur

Author of Metal Like Me (2019) and Dark Days (2020)