I shared this on my personal blog and thought I would re-post it here.
I recently spent some time beta reading a writer friend's new book. For those who don't know, beta reading is one of the first steps you should take after writing a novel. You give it to people you trust, to read and tell you what they think. I usually go a bit further and do some editing suggestions. Just because I like that part of it.
If you're ever asked to beta read here are a few rules:
- Make sure the book is ready to read. The writer should have done all the editing they could on their own before they ask for your help. You definitely don't want to read a first draft. I highly recommend The Frugal Editor - an easy to follow process for self editing - http://amzn.to/2aEoydz
- Be kind, but honest. Most writers really want to know what needs improvement. If they don't, then they shouldn't be asking for your input. If you know the person well enough to believe they may be offended, think about politely turning down their request. Better to keep a friendship than make an enemy.
- Try to point out things like POV (point of view) mistakes, inconsistent characters, plot holes, or anything that just doesn't make sense to you as a reader. Let them know if the beginning captures your attention or if perhaps they might want to start the story at a different spot.
- Don't make any changes yourself. Use Word comments to make your suggestions. You are not the author and they will not appreciate your corrections, no matter how well intended.