Over the past couple of months we've discussed extensively how to edit your work, questions you should ask during your first read-through, and how to decide whether to keep a scene. Today we'll discuss one of the scariest parts of writing: getting feedback. Specifically, we're going to talk about critique partners and beta readers.
What are critique partners and beta readers?
Critique partners are the first people to see your manuscript. They're other writers, usually in the same genre, who go through your work piece-by-piece and offer constructive criticism with the goal of helping you write the best book possible.
Beta readers are people who read your book after your critique partners but before you send it to professional editors. They are sometimes writers but are always voracious readers, and they give you a reader's impression of your book.
Where can you find critique partners and beta readers?
There are several good places to find critique partners and beta readers, especially online. Here are some of your best options:
Sites for finding critiques and/or beta readers - Several sites are designed specifically to help writers receive feedback. Critique Circle and Critter's Workshop are some of the oldest and most well-respected options.
Facebook groups - These days many people have mixed feelings about Facebook, but the social media giant is home to many excellent groups for writers. Some, like the 10 Minute Novelists group, have special days each week where people are invited to post their calls for critique partners, beta readers, and other collaborators.
Twitter chats - An enormous number of Twitter chats exists for writers, and they can be a great place to find ones interested in providing feedback on your work. I personally host the #weeknightwriters Twitter chat at 7PM EST and run a bimonthly "writing collaborators" chat where I invite people to post Classifieds for critique partners and beta readers interested in their stories.
Working with critique partners and beta readers is a great way to get used to receiving feedback before you work with an editor (or reviewers), improve your novel, and discover your writing weaknesses so you can develop your craft. And, when you find someone who provides great feedback and is willing to read your book all the way through, cherish them as though they are more precious than gold, because in my experience, they are.
Dianna Gunn is the author of the fantasy novel “Moonshadow's Guardian” and the Write Plan content writer. She also blogs about creativity, life and books at The Dabbler.
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