I'm an award-winning author, at least according to the local Sooke Fall Fair. Like last year, I submitted a handful of short stories to the local fair in the Literary arts Section. Unlike last year, I had a lot more competition. Blue ribbons for first place don't mean quite as much when you're the only one in the class…
But this year, I had three firsts and two seconds. In only one category, I was the only entry. The others had competition! A much higher turnout than I recall from last year. Still, my ability to generate a lot of words (even if they are not always the most impressive ones) helped me garner the trophy prize; Most points in Literary arts. I suppose that it was bound to happen when I enter five categories and place in all.
It's not as prestigious as some, but it's my second set of ribbons, so they're going into the box beside my bed. I can pull them out when I start feeling inadequate.
I don't always feel like I have time enough for basic things. That's why I have a list sitting beside me right now, and I keep scribbling stuff on it. ("Write on the Blog" was not on it, but here we are.) If I'm really efficient, I might get it all done. Then maybe I'll have time for fun stuff like writing or editing or querying. Ok, querying is not that fun, but it's a necessary evil. And it's something I'll get to if I finish my list.
When I'm that pressed for time, why bother with Beta Reading?
Just in case, I'll define this: A Beta reader is a person who looks at an unpublished manuscript and provides feedback, usually right before publication. They are not editors (although I'll wear both hats unless someone tells me not to). They look for inconsistencies, character development, flow, and other far-arching things that would concern a reader.
I love Beta Reading, and there are several reasons why.
1. It gives me a reason to read again.
If I don't feel like I'm being useful, I may not make time for reading. But I enjoy reading, and it's easy to forget to do it. Once I commit to someone, I have a timeline to stick to. That means reading is now a higher priority on that list.
2. I learn something every time.
I always have to look something up because I'm being critical of what I'm reading instead of just accepting what's on the page. I learn. Sometimes I learn what doesn't work, but that's still helpful. I see common mistakes and can make sure I don't make them. Or I spot tricks others are using and decide if I think they would work for me.
3. I remember I am not alone.
Seeing another work-in-progress helps me remember that I don't have to be perfect right away. We all go through a process to get to the final product. We often only get to see the finished product, polished to a sheen. When you're looking at your own roughly shaped lump of wood, comparing it to a perfect sculpture is disheartening. But Beta Reading gives me a look behind the scenes and permits me to be imperfect. Then I remember that I'm in good company and can move on.
So there you go; why Beta Reading helps aspiring authors. Consider it 'required reading' for anyone going ahead with publishing.
Now back to the list.
D. Lambert, author
Fantasy novels that entice, inspire, and entertain.