As great, and as much as I sing the praises of Beta Readers, they do have a downside.
Beta Readers are the best weapon you can have for a new work especially when they read and get back to you. Beta Readers are the best when they read your work and get back to you. The crucial thing to remember is that communication is essential to any draft or revision.
If you give your baby that your carried for almost a year, and turn them over to someone your trust, only to have them tell you they have nothing else to tell you? Even after they have been with your child all day? You would be a little suspicious and a lot aggravated. You would think the horrible and the impossible all at once! The main thing you may think is:
“Did they even pay attention?”
The same with Beta Readers. The best Beta Readers are engaged, they are excited to read your work, give feedback and even criticism! As the writer, as the creator of any work, your primary job is to protect your work. Your job is to revise and finish your own work.
Think of a WIP (Work In Progress) as baking a cake. All the ingredients go into the batter: milk, sugar, butter and flour. There are elemental things that go into it which are not to be disputed. A WIP requires imagination, time, a draft and a reader. These things are immutable.
One of the best metaphors I heard in regards to having an editor or another reader was: “Would you do you own eye surgery?”
If you’re a rational, wise person, you wouldn’t. This means that you can’t always see what is the best thing to do! But this element of the draft process can only work if the readers do their jobs!
Beta Readers have to be engaged. They have to value your time, your intention and you work. If they cannot do that, if they will not do that, don’t trust them with your work.
You wouldn’t trust your baby with just anyone. A WIP is the same way! Don’t trust your baby to someone that can’t won’t talk to you. Those are the ones whom are most likely to take your work. Be ware. You’ve been warned.