Alpha & Beta Readers
So we always talk about Beta-readers but don't forget your Alpha-readers. An Alpha is the first person, someone close to you, that reads your manuscript and helps you fix it up. They give advice on readability, context and of course overall theme and plot. But the Alpha's also need to be tough and help you understand what your work lacks, or in some cases, has too much of.
Not everyone has the option of an Alpha-Reader. There are those families' that don't want to be bothered with your art. And you certainly don't want to alienate yourself by constantly hounding your friends. If you do have someone close to you, that is willing to be an Alpha that is perfect. If you do not, however, perhaps create your own little circle through Social Media. Who is going to be more honest anyway, your Mom? Or a Total Stranger? In the past, I asked a few people I met on Google +, and they agreed and helped shape my stories.
Recently someone asked what Beta-readers do, and I found out we all have our variation. I have Beta-read for a few people this past year. Mostly they asked me to let them know thoughts on the overall story, look for plot holes, places that may be confusing or need revising. This is a standard for most people. I also note any grammar or spelling errors of course.
(I am hoping she doesn't mind my sharing as she has 44,000 followers so what's a few more)
Jenna does Vlogs and has this great video on her Idea of a Beta-Reader, and what she expects of them. She is funny, smart and detailed. Now she takes her Betas chapter by chapter with questions. Personally, I do not have the time or patience for this....so it is what works for you.
Long story short - Alphas and Betas - no matter what you ask of them, are there to help you get the best from your story.
In my research for this blog, I also stumbled across this handy site - a publishing company that allows manuscripts of full-length novels only, unpublished, for free beta-reading. With the bonus of possibly being picked up for publishing if, enough betas like your work. Check it out and Good Luck!
Happy writing and Beta reading.