I was recently asked to explain the difference between an editor and a beta reader. NOTE: I am a beta reader – NOT an editor.
The answer to that question is actually very easy – a professional editors or copyeditors correct spelling mistakes and adjust grammar. Editors are necessary in the self-publishing process.
Professional editing is a must. No book is perfect, but editorial assistance can help you get a lot closer.
Beta Readers are sometimes called ‘developmental editors’ because they check your book for flow and consistency. They suggest revisions when something about the language doesn’t seem right.
When picking a beta reader, you must find someone you trust with your work, and ask them to be brutally honest in their review. You are absolutely free to get feedback from your family or spouse or friends….but remember that they are going to be overly kind regarding your work because they love you. Their natural reaction is to make you happy and congratulate you on finishing your novel. If you don’t get an unbiased, honest opinion you could easily submit sub-par work to an already overloaded agent.
You can find many beta readers on Fiverr – but buyer beware: you absolutely get what you pay for on Fiverr.
When I beta read I love to tell clients what works in their novel, but I’m also honest about what doesn’t work. You aren’t paying me to be nice – you pay me to help get your story published. I’m going to tell you in a nice way, but I’ve got to be honest and tell you.
If you need help with beta reading your manuscript feel free to reach out to me. (Seriously, this is what I love to do!)
Some submission requirements only request the first page or first chapter of your manuscript with your query letter, so I’d be happy to beta read just those portions (instead of the whole novel).