Why you should beta test your draft

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When I completed HOME BEFORE DARK, I couldn’t wait to get everyone to read it. You know, my parents, my childhood friends, my writer friends, my teachers from school and college, their friends and family, and so on.

Well, that is not a good expectation to have. Because a first draft is never the right sample you should give your first readers.

In my case, I was so desperate for feedback that as soon as I typed THE END, I sent the ms out to the poor souls who volunteered to read it. Almost all of them gave positive feedback. They also said that glaring grammar errors distracted them.

Oh the shame! Surely, I should have had the foresight to give them a clean, spell-checked draft? Why oh why was I so, so impatient?

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But it’s only natural, isn’t it? You complete a story and for a brief moment, you are close to God – after all, you created something out of nothing. You feel euphoric, invincible, and you wish to get affirmation of that fact. You wish others to validate your invincibility. (Which is another post, really).

What you should also remember – your reader’s time is precious. She deserves to be given the perfect draft, so that she can give you the perfect feedback. Feedback on plot and pacing and characterization. Not about grammar or malapropism or format errors. Which, I guarantee you, your first draft will have.

That is why I ask writers to wait at least a month after writing their raw draft (this is the story that you purge out of your mind and onto the pages), to do a basic edit and only then, the first draft emerges. A draft that you should edit as much as possible, check for grammar/spelling errors and let another month go by… and only then should you start to look for readers.


So, back to the topic – why you should never submit your story to a publisher without letting at least 10 pairs of eyes see and evaluate it first?

So you may know what you are doing wrong.

So you may know what you are doing wrong via the words of a peer or a stranger, rather via a rejection note from an editor.

So you may know what you are doing wrong, without spending $$$ on professional classes or critique services, and also develop a network of fellow readers and writers.

Are these reasons compelling enough? No? You want more? Here are a few articles that will help you:

What is a beta reader and why you need one

How to work with a beta reader

How to find beta readers for your unpublished manuscript 


Image credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.net / africa


One thought on “Why you should beta test your draft

  1. Thanks for mentioning my blog, Radhika. 🙂 It’s great that you have such a good understanding of the importance of self-editing, and then getting good feedback. Best wishes with your books!

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