Before addressing people who read books for information, inspiration, or entertainment, I want to address the difference between Beta Readers and Editors. There used to be a clear definition and description between the two, but somewhere along the way, the lines became blurred. This has become quite a frustration to both Beta Readers and Editors.
Why? Because Beta Readers are not editors. They are not skilled writers who are necessarily knowledgeable about the technical/mechanical aspects of writing. Beta Readers are simply regular readers who love to read, and though they may have some knowledge of spelling, grammar, punctuation, and the rest of the technical/mechanical aspects of a story, many do not, and they aren’t interested in trying to find those errors for the writer and report them to the writer.
A Beta Reader, as I said, comes out of a large group. They are readers who simply love to read and many of them stick to just one or two genres. Therefore, they are very familiar with those one or two genres and what makes those genres appealing to readers. They know what readers expect in those genres and can tell the writer whether or not the story lives up to its expectations. They can tell the writer if there are things missing or if the action is too fast or too slow, if the readers can relate to the characters, if the characters are believable, which characters are likable or not likable, and anything pertaining to the story itself.
A Beta Reader can let the writer know whether or not he or she has kept their promise to the readers of that genre, as I mentioned in my previous article, and all of the information a Beta Reader can tell a writer is helpful because it can inform the writer of weak characters or weak parts in the plot that need beefed up. The information a Beta Reader shares with the writer can also let the writer know whether or not the resolution of the story has been fully accomplished and whether or not the ending is satisfactory to the reader.
An Editor is the one who wants to read a writer’s work and look for all the little technical/mechanical errors as well as the typographical errors, and many editors will also look for the same things the Beta Readers look for. Some editors are only interested in doing the line by line technical/mechanical reading and pointing out those errors to be corrected. Some editors will do a full content edit, which covers those technical/mechanical errors as well as the actual story problems. Writers can choose which type of editor they want to hire, but fiction writers should hire full content editors. Even if a writer thinks their Beta Readers did a thorough job of finding the strengths and weaknesses in the story and its characters, having a content editor read the entire manuscript with an eye for these issues, as well as all the little technical/mechanical issues, can find what the Beta Readers may have missed.
Having several pairs of eyes reading and offering knowledgeable feedback, in their particular area of knowledge, will be of great service to the writer in improving his or her manuscript prior to publication.
I hope, based on what I have written above, you can understand the importance of both Beta Readers and Editors. I also hope you can see why a Beta Reader should NOT read a writer’s manuscript that has not been edited.
In other words, writers should send manuscripts to editors first and make the editorial corrections BEFORE sending the manuscripts to Beta Readers.
After receiving the information from Beta Readers, all final corrections to a writer’s manuscript should be made, then formatted for publication.
Regular readers are simply the readers who want to read books for information, inspiration, or entertainment. They are the ones who will buy the book after it is published. They are the readers who will tell their friends about a book and whether or not they love it, like it, think it was okay, dislike it, or hate it. Regular readers are the book collectors who will faithfully follow their favorite authors.
Now, I’d like to talk to regular readers who do or do not writer reviews of the books they read, and why they should write reviews and what their reviews should include.
If you read books and care about those who write books, you should take the time to write, at least a short book review. Why? Because book reviews help your favorite authors sell books, and this is extremely important to writers, especially independently published writers.
What exactly should a book review include? Well, for readers who just want to help writers and don’t necessarily become Book Reviewers, the important things to write about a book are: what did you like about the book; is there anything you disliked about the book; what did you find outstanding about the book; and would you recommend the book to other readers?
It is important to give some details in a book review. It is not acceptable or helpful to other readers trying to decide whether or not they want to read the book to simply say, “I really liked this book” or “This is a great book”. Someone considering whether or not to purchase a book wants to know what did you really like or why is it a great book. Just be sure to give a reason without giving spoilers that give away something very important to the plot or the ending. Also, don’t simply rewrite the back cover blurb of the book. Give your honest opinion without giving anything away and ruining the story.
The same goes for saying, “I didn’t like this book”. Give a reason why, and again, don’t give away a major plot point or the ending.
Your review doesn’t have to be long, but it definitely should include some helpful information for other readers.
And if you want to help your favorite writers sell their books, you should know that writers value and greatly appreciate your taking some time to write a review for their book(s).
In addition, your short review can be of great help to other readers trying to decide whether or not a particular book would be one they’d like to read or not read.