I recently received a nice compliment from one of my beta authors. I read her work in progress (WIP) a few months ago. The author’s project was a pleasure to read. Unlike a novel I beta read at another time. (No, I’m not offering any details.) That particular story was so challenging that I considered giving up beta reading forever. Although there might be exceptions, I’ve just about made up my mind to read only for authors whose projects I previously have read. Why? Because I’m familiar with their work. And because they have mastered grammar, punctuation, spelling, sentence structure, and a few other things, and they have self-edited their novels before sending the projects to me.
So many newbie authors request beta readers when what they actually seem to want are alpha readers – or even free developmental editors (more about that in a future post). In the past, too many of them have sent me first drafts with a convoluted story that has not been self-edited and is full of grammar errors and typos. As an editor, as well as a beta reader, I find that the inconsistencies and errors distract me from the story, and reading the work takes me longer to complete. I’ve read a lot of full-length alpha manuscripts over the past few years, but I’m no longer willing to do that.