Before I took to Twitter and started blogging, I’d never heard of Alpha or Beta readers. While Americans are familiar with the terms, I’m not sure how many on this side of the water are. So I’ve asked writer and editor Suah (@sirra_girl) to explain the difference.
The Proper Etiquette Toward Alpha/Beta Readers
This post may come across as a bit didactic, but I must address this sensitive issue. By now, all writers are familiar with what Beta/Alpha readers do and how invaluable they are to us. But in case you’re not quite sure what they are and how to distinguish between them, here’s a short explanation.
Alpha Readers: They will read your manuscript and offer you a quick, general feedbacks focusing on the large picture. They’ll mainly point out problems with plot, pacing, character development, and overall voice.
Beta Readers: These are the people who will undoubtably pick apart at your writing and take a long time doing it. Their feedbacks are usually extensive and can include line by line critique that addresses typos, grammar errors, syntax errors, as wells as all the things alpha readers offer.
Whether you’re dealing with alpha or beta readers, you have to remember this. They are doing you a favor by devoting their time to offer advice. So when they get back to you, be gracious. Their opinions may come from a subjective point of view, and they might not even be right. Still, it’s very douchey not to appreciate or acknowledge their time and work.
On a side note, I once received great feedback from now a good friend and a former literary agent intern. Her comments were in red, and I understood why it was appropriate. Now, I also write my comments in red, which I call my bloodbath. Why? Because it makes your heart bleed to read it as it makes mine bleed to give it. I know how hard it is to do what you do and how vulnerable it feels to share your work only to be criticized. Believe it or not, I don’t enjoy stabbing people’s hearts with my remarks.
Okay, back to the etiquette. There’s a room for constructive and even not so constructive criticism when it comes to writing. You need the fresh and objective insight into your work to apply to your revision. I think that could only make you a better writer, no? And another thing, please send the “ready” material. Don’t send the 1st draft of 20. Meanwhile, learn the proper etiquette for your alpha/beta readers. Learn to grow a thicker skin. Learn to be thankful. To use a layman’s term, be non-douchey; be cool. Tata~
Bio. This is the part where I’m supposed to list my creds using 3 P.O.V. Some can get away with it by not sounding narcissistic, but I’m not sure if I could. So, here goes. I graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Information Systems in 2 1/2 years rather than 4 because I like to get things done fast. Obviously, my degree has nothing to do with writing. That part came after I stumbled upon a translation job where I worked on over 100 movies, books, essays, legal and corporate documents/contracts. And that ultimately led me to writing and editing novels. But my heart is with music and reading as I love nothing more than to play piano or violin and bury my nose in a good book. If you want to contact me, you can do one of two things.
Visit me on my writing blog: http://sirragirl.blogspot.com/
Follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/sirra_girl
If you need my editing service, visit my editor blog here: http://sirraedits.wordpress.com/