Like so many others recently, I found a few new distractions over these last strange months. Aside from the TV shows I will not admit to becoming addicted, or the amount of online shopping I engaged in, I began beta reading.
As a writer, beta reading isn’t entirely new to me. But, beta reading in the true sense – reading and reviewing for a complete stranger was uncharted waters. Friends have read my early manuscripts and vice versa, but this format is quite different – and I like it.
As an avid reader, I agonize over my next read and always have. During Quarantine, I plowed through books, but still chose very discerningly. Fear of disappointment looms with every selection, even when recommended by a friend.
Enter beta reading. Through the Upwork platform I was selected to blindly read and review manuscripts. Each average 200 pages and can be any genre, heat level, and in any stage of development. In the past six months I’ve read all points on each spectrum. Some so bad I found it difficult to give feedback and some so well done I wondered if I was slipped a bestseller to check my credibility.
The process is mutually anonymous, so I feel free to give honest, solid criticism and praise. I benefit as well from practicing my craft and have to laugh when I point out weaknesses such as, ‘telling instead of showing’ and later peruse my own work-in-progress for the same.
The best part of beta reading is the reading. I don’t experience any anticipatory anxiety. No selection sorrow. Whenever I email I’m ready for another manuscript, I sit back, wait for a reply, and wonder what I’ll be reading for the next few days.