Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Beta, Part 2: Finding Readers and Reviewers

It’s hard enough to write your work, even harder to edit it, and so much harder to see a lot of your work chipped at and cut apart if only to make way for better things. It might also be hard for you to find people who are willing to read your work, and who are willing to critique it. As mentioned in Part 1, you need to find a fellow writer who understands how difficult it is to produce well-written work. But what about an ordinary reader who will exemplify your run-of-the-mill reader, your person-on-the-street who really isn’t a writer, too?

You will have a hard time finding people to read your work, especially since modern life entails so much more work for the little time that we all have. Here are a few places where you can find readers.

1.Do you have a local book club? Ask them to have a meeting devoted to discussing your manuscript. You can ask for suggestions and for insight on how people understand your book.
2.Post a call for readers at your local library. If this isn’t possible, look for a bulletin board on a college or university campus close by. Remember, you may need to pay your readers, so their critique could be biased.
3.Join writers’ forums and ask for novel swaps. You could read and critique someone else’s novel while having someone read through yours. Better yet, go to a book lovers’ forum and ask for volunteers. Chances are, you’ll find someone who is willing to give your book a look. All you need is a high concentration of devoted readers.
4.Join mailing lists for writers and/or readers. Post a call for volunteers and ask for help. You can easily get more than one person to help you out.
5.Put up a blog, and provide an excerpt from your novel. Call for volunteers to read and critique the rest of your work.

These are only a few ways that you can get readers and reviewers. If you can get a small audience to read your work, you will have a better chance of understanding how good (or not-so-good) your work is. You don’t have to follow all the advice given to you, however: examine the suggestions and then use your best judgment to check which you will use. You are still the master of your novel, and you have to balance this mastery with openness to new things.

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