Open book blog hop – Beta partners

The Day of the Triffids

If you could choose one author, living or dead, to be your beta partner, who would it be and why?

What is a beta reader?

A beta reader is usually a test reader of an unreleased work of literature or other writing, who gives feedback from the point of view of an average reader to the author. This feedback is used by the writer to fix any issues with plot, pacing and consistency.

This sounds very good and all writers should have their books beta read.

This declaration being made, I have never actually asked anyone to beta read one of my books. I have, however, beta read other authors books.

The reason I have not asked anyone to beta read my books is because, to date, I have considered that they require more than beta reading to get them into suitable shape for publishing. I did not study creative writing at university [in fact, as most of you know, I studied accountancy which is probably about as far away from creative writing as anyone could get] and I felt that I need to make a solid financial and learning investment in my writing if I want to learn the tools of writing. My view was that I couldn’t expect to get the extensive advice and help I felt I needed from someone who kindly volunteered to read a draft of my book. That just didn’t feel right to me; it felt like I would be taking advantage of the volunteer.

To this end, I engaged the services of a developmental editor to read and comment on each of my three books, While the Bombs Fell, Through the Nethergate, and A Ghost and His Gold.

What an absolutely worthwhile investment it has been for me. I learned so much from Charli Mills, who developmentally edited While the Bombs Fell, and Esther Chilton, who developmentally edited Through the Nethergate and A Ghost and His Gold, I could never do them justice no matter how much praise I give them.

Between the two of them, they taught me about timelines in stories, how to include research without information dumping, how to spot lose ends in my plot threads and tie them up, how to expand and develop and idea to make it richer, flow better, and more interesting and attention garnering.

One of the pieces of advice I was given was to carefully reads the works of other authors whose writing I admire and who I aspire to emulate and to learn from the way they wrote, developed ideas, described things, and wrote dialogue. In response to this great advice, I have dived into many books to see how the writer shaped his/her ideas. You can learn so much from other writers.

Once my books have been developmentally edited and effectively re-written, I give them to my mother to read. My mother is an ordinary reader and she is very quick to point out things like when I insert my own [strong] opinions to overtly into my books, when I think some concept is adequately explained but she can’t make head or tale of it, and other similar problems. I understand that Robert Jordan’s wife performed a similar service for him as he got carried away with ideas that sometimes made no sense to a reader.

I have gained more confidence with my writing over the past few years and I have recently acquired a beta partner who I am working with on my new novel. I will probably still use the services of a developmental editor though, as I have found it to be such a worthwhile investment for me.

In summary, I would probably not want any historical or current famous author to beta read my books, but I will continue to look to the works of great writers like Stephen King, Bram Stoker, Margaret Mitchell, C.S. Lewis, H.G. Wells, John Wyndham, and Edgar Allan Poe, to name but a few, for inspiration and guidance.

Who author would other blog-hoppers choose to be their beta partner? Click on the link below to find out.


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36 thoughts on “Open book blog hop – Beta partners

  1. I appreciated this post immensely. Having been a Beta reader myself, a few times, I can see where having the expertise of a developmental story editor would work better for the types of books you spoke of here. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Annette, I am glad you found this post useful. The advice and expertise of Charli and Esther have been invaluable to me. I can see how much my writing and thought processes have improved over the past few years from the number of major restructuring comments I get. The quantum of comments requiring a major overhaul of my books has reduced significantly and now the advice centres more around fleshing out thoughts, tying up threads and style of writing.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s great you’ve found a good Beta reader and developmental editor too. I’ve alwaya enjoyed doing Beta reads in the past.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. You placed so much good advice in this blog. I have had one of my books beta read by one of the professors at the university where I worked. She became one of my biggest fans. The best school for writing is to read a lot of books. The author I would pick to beta read for me would be Stephen King. He knows how to tell a good story.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I have a couple of excellent Beta readers, one a former elementary school teacher and an avid reader. If I could choose a well-known author to be a beta partner, I would pick Lucy Maud Montgomery, the author of the Anne of Green Gables books. She was able to be in the head of a young girl so well. I’m sure she would give me some excellent advice.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ve read you say this at least twice, so I have to drop an .02 – get out of the way as an “author” writing the character and the little girl will speak for herself. As will the rest of them.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. I also like LM Montgomery, Darlene, she was a very good writer and her books are famous as a result of her amazing skills. Examining the way she writes has helped me too. I especially always remember the scene at the beginning when Mrs Rachel Lynd sees Matthew going to fetch Anne.


    1. I don’t use my mom as my primary critic. I take her advice on the complexity and clarity of my writing. If she doesn’t understand something, then I know others will not. All my books have been developmentally edited and extensively re-written as a result of the detailed advice given. I am always very happy to receive constructive criticism and learn a lot from it. I also get my books proofed by an editor and then by my publisher. I usually have six or seven drafts of a book before publication.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It all depends on how much of what they have to say you absorb and how much of you is left. There’s a great scene in Get Shorty about the distance between pitch and product.


    1. Hi Miriam, I may get to that level of confidence in my work at some point. If I could stick to a style and genre it would be easier to be confident but I am such an adventurer when it comes to writing. PS, Coco loves Tina in a Crowd. The paperback is beautiful.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I understand what you meant by taking time to get confident! I would like to write different genres also.
        I love to hear Coco loves Tina Lost in a Crowd. I just had a great conversation with my daughter about co-authoring more children’s books in the future.
        I did hardcover on Barnes & Noble, but they are not very efficient and outsource the printing to a partner. I ordered two copies six weeks ago and still haven’t received them. I wouldn’t depend on B&N as a major distributor. Amazon is far more efficient and user friendly.


  5. I’d never heard of beta readers until I joined the blogging community. When I received my education, writers worked with teachers/mentors to learn the craft, then with editors to get it ready for publication. I have found the beta reader/developmental editor model a very useful way to present the different types of feedback students receive in writing courses.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. HI Liz, I hadn’t heard of them either before blogging. I have gone developmental editing for the very reason you have stated here; I believe I need instruction and mentoring and I have received that. I now have a beta reader/writing partner but would only send him stuff when it is reasonable shape.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I think it’s great that you now have a beta-reader-partner now, Robbie. And keep going with the developmental editor too. We all need feedback… as much as we can get. I was part of a critique group for 5 years and in a way that meant I had 5 sets of eyes on my work. Now I have a critique partner/beta reader who keeps me on track. Happy Writing!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I work with critique partners rather than beta readers and I love working that way. Even then, a book still needs a good editor before publication. I also read a ton of fiction, most in my preferred genre of mystery/suspense/thriller.
    If I had to pick a famous beta reader for my work, I’d go with one of my auto-buy authors—Kevin O’Brien, Preston & Child, or Jennifer McMahon. I’d love to get their feedback!


  8. I can’t begin to think of who I’d like to have beta read for me. I learn so much from every book I read. I can’t imagine what I’d learn from a critique from a mega-author. How to choose only one? (Then again, what if the author is super talented at writing but absolutely awful at giving advice? There are people like that.) I don’t know how I’d ever pick.

    I do have some critique partners and an editor who make me better with every word. I wouldn’t trade them for anything. I’m eternally grateful to them. Maybe they’ll be famous one day and make a lot of people’s lists.

    I love the look at your process, Robbie. Thanks for sharing.


  9. What a great post! I have been a beta-reader, but have not yet given any of my books to beta-readers. But with the current WIP, I will be sending it out. I feel there is great value in the process!


  10. I’ve been a beta reader and used them as well. The idea of a developmental editor does sound like a wise investment. I agree, though, that reading the works of some great authors is very enlightening. Thanks for sharing, Robbie.

    Liked by 1 person

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