Beta Readers are something that every writer needs to have, even Stephen King needed his wife to tell him that Carrie had potential (after she found it in his trash bin).
Beta readers are the first people that see our work, they not only tell us what the story and characters are like, some beta readers will do an edit run and point out the grammatical errors, this is normally quite high in my work lol. Two of my beta readers are writers and they both return to me a document with comments and a quick summery of what they think of the story. This to me is worth its weight in gold, and then some. I get good, in-depth notes on the story. everything from the title to insignificant characters, no character is insignificant to be honest, but anyway i get good notes back. My other two beta readers are non-writers who give me their opinion on the whole story and never on the grammar part of the work.
I value my beta readers hugely, they are honest but not nasty and are all eager to give their opinions and encourage me. I deliberately have two of my beta readers who are not writers because having people who do not write is important. In my opinion because not everyone is a writer and they don’t think about a book in the same way that a writer does. Just going by my own reading habits I analyse what I’m reading and looking at what makes the story, the characters, the setting and so on work. That’s not a bad thing but I want a wide variation of people in my beta group. The more varied people are the better feedback I’m going to get.
I have four beta readers at the moment but I’d like to add two more to that number but its not something that I am rushing to do. Beta readers are incredibly important so having the right people is vitally important.
I will just take this moment to thank my beta readers, you are all awesome people and I would not be where I am now as a writer if it wasn’t for you guys 🙂