Anyone can write, but not everyone can finish a story and edit it. After editing, a writer can submit their work outright, but I don’t recommend it. Beta readers are vital to the publishing process.
And I’m not talking about your mother, or your closest friend: you need professional unbiased opinions of your work.
How the hell do you find that?
You talk to other writers. Join a guild, a writer’s group, or get in touch with REAL writers online. Not people who say they’re writers, but actual published authors.
It’s frightening at first. But there is a world of indie authors and some best sellers who enjoy aiding upcoming writers. I’ve been super lucky to have fallen into this profession and found myself surrounded by talented, encouraging individuals.
Published authors, (people who have submitted their work to publications etc and been approved by outside editors) generally know how to offer constructive criticism. They won’t tear into you, or pretend that you’re the best writer ever, because honestly most people aren’t. They know the business, and have enough experience to offer tips that will strengthen your writing.
I didn’t always share my work. My husband is always the first to read it. My mom also offers to, but I know she’ll love whatever I put out and that’s awesome for supportive reasons, but not helpful when you’re looking to improve.
Now that I’ve been published quite a few times, I get it. I’ve made friends with writers I trust and we exchange work when needed.
That’s the thing. If you want someone to beta read your stories, you have to do it for them. Getting published is all about give and take. The people who seem to be getting somewhere are those who help others along the way.
You’ll meet people who claim to be writers and say they’d love to exchange work, but then drag their toes. It’s frustrating to commit yourself to going through and aiding another when they never finish doing it for you.
We like to joke about how writers procrastinate. Sure we may be apprehensive at first, but real writers know when to buckle down and get the job done. Those are the people you need to seek out.
Trust your instincts. If you don’t trust someone’s word then move on.
I read fast, so I try to beta read whenever I’m asked. I know enough technique to point out issues, but understand rejection to the point that I’m not going to make you feel like shit for not being the greatest writer ever.
Luckily, the writers who beta read my stuff are the same. I’ve gotten a small circle of people I trust who I can exchange work with at this point.
Love your betas. Love being a beta. Share. If you’re only writing for yourself you’re in the wrong profession, get a journal. haha