Thursday, April 26, 2012

Here beta, beta, beta...

Average Blog Reader
One of the biggest challenges with creating my blog entries is writing to my entire audience. I have friends from grade school, high school, and college who visit here. I also have acquaintances from my days in radio who stop by from time to time as do friends I used to reenact the civil war with. Recently added to the mix are persons in the field of writing and publishing. And on top of that strange venn diagram scenario, my family swings by as well. It should be noted this is not the limit of my visitors.

According to Blogger, the majority of my blog viewers, 90% in fact, are in the United States, while in second place is Russia with 8%. This is odd to me since Canada, a country where the majority of residents speak english, is in third place and the United Kingdom, again english speaking folks, comes in below Germany. And since we are talking blog stats, I want to offer a shout out to all of the PC users out there since 78% of my views are not from a Mac.

Also, to the 3 people who have viewed my blog using the Netscape browser, it's time to put on the big boy pants and stop using that computer you found at the bus terminal.

So as I write my thoughts for all my circles to share, in the back of my mind I am always thinking, "Do I need to explain what I mean?" This is likely one of these times. Oh, do you smell that? It's a brief description I just baked and am serving up to those not in the fields of writing and publishing. Today I would like to explain what a Beta Reader is, rather, today I would like to let Wikipedia explain what a Beta Reader is.

International Symbol for a Beta Reader I Just Drew
"A beta reader (also spelled betareader, or shortened to beta) is a person who reads a written work, generally fiction, with what has been described[1] as "a critical eye, with the aim of improving grammar, spelling, characterization, and general style of a story prior to its release to the general public."

the Beta Band featured in the film High Fidelity
Since I started writing again three years ago, my Beta Reader is my lovely and talented wife Paige. She has a thorough knowledge of literature, speaks fluent french, and is a librarian. She also has experience editing having worked on movie pilot scripts in the past. She downplays this experience as it was for an old flame but I do not make that distinction. When Paige says she likes something I wrote, I know I can trust it and when she says she doesn't like it, I get sad which is odd validation for her statement.

Case in point, I completed a children's book manuscript recently and after she read it she said to me, "You forgot to include a story." Sadness led to me realizing Piage was right. The characters were there in great detail but I failed to place them on a path.

The 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest is ongoing as I write these words. My Novel which I started writing last September made it into the quarter finals, being chosen as one of the top 5% of 5,000 entries. Unfortunately, it will go no further as it was just eliminated. After the 5 stages of grief completed pissing on my wheaties, I am ready to start editing and carry on.

I had a Beta fish when I was in grade school
First I need to pump up my ego a little and recognize that in the relatively short time I have been back at writing, having a novel make it that far the first time out is pretty impressive and an accomplishment I could not have made without my Beta Reader Paige. Even with this level of first time success, Paige still reminds me I need to find another Beta Reader to help put a finer point on my pencil, especially for the children's book manuscripts I have.

So how does one go about finding a Beta? I would love to hear back from some writers out there with their stories and advice of how they found the right critique partner. Then again, maybe I would learn more from the stories of the wrong connections. Feel free to place a comment below or drop me a line directly. This new writer would sincerely appreciate it.