Friday, 24 June 2011

Betas - care and proper feeding

If you're an indie writer, you're going to need betas. A beta (literally, "the second in a series," after the Greek letter) is a person who reads a writer's story and offers comments. Betas are usually a writer's friend, and they read and critique a story for free (or a low price). New writers often can't afford professional editors or proofreaders, so the beta's job is an important one--catch errors, and offer an opinion for revisions.

I rely on some betas I've met through writing forums, and we use Google Docs to share our work and read comments. Docs is easy to get started with and the files read like Word documents, but with the additional capability of letting other people edit or add thoughts in real time.

However, in the early days when I was writing, I had to print out files for some of my readers (friends and family) and physically deliver or mail them.

I thanked four of my betas in the dedication of my first novel, and everyone who helped with the novel got a coupon code to download the completed book from Smashwords, or a printed novel if they were really instrumental in getting Flyday polished. And I offer critiques to my betas' work as my schedule allows (although I have less and less time for this lately).

The writer/beta relationship is a great one, because every writer needs a second set of eyes before a story is ready for readers.

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