I’m on the hunt for Beta Readers. What the hell is that? you’re wondering? A beta reader is someone who is a test audience for an in-progress, unpublished manuscript. This means that yes, I’m working on a novel, and I’m at the stage where I’m in desperate need of feedback, constructive criticism and guidance on how to proceed.
But finding Beta Readers, especially the correct Beta Readers, is not as simple as putting a Wanted Ad in the local newspaper and waiting for replies. This would be akin to locating a life partner by the same approach, something I might add, that too many folks are doing, compliments of some well-known and strongly advertised dating websites.
I don’t comprehend how this works because almost no matter what guideline I concoct, I can think of someone I know, of whom I’ve very fond, who violates that particular rule. While we all have our standards, I think it’s much like the Supreme Court’s definition of “obscenity” – I know it when I see it.
So what if I did try my hand at writing a Want Ad for Beta Readers? What would look like?
Wanted: Beta Readers for in-progress commercial mainstream fiction novel. Must possess the ability to offer constructive criticism and not just blow smoke up my ass. Intimate knowledge of Cameron Crowe’s “Almost Famous” a must; affinity for Kevin Smith a plus. If you find foul language, social drug use, sexuality and bad behavior offensive, this is not the assignment for you. Please pick up the latest chick lit book and move along.
Should I ask for credentials? A resume of favorite books, favorite songs, favorite authors? How does one determine the criteria? Three personal references? Just what the hell are the right questions to ask?