What are beta readers and why are they important to an author? Simply put- beta readers are people that agree to read your unpublished work before submission to an agent or publisher. They are important to me because I submitted my manuscript to a few of them.
My first thought after finishing my manuscript was, 'Wow, that was fun.' My second thought was, 'Will anyone else want to read this?' Some of my family and friends did read the manuscript. They were taken in by the story and characters as much as I was. But, as they sang their praises, I wondered about something.
Did they like the book, or did they like that I wrote it?
The answer to that question wasn't simple. I needed an unbiased opinion. Don't get me wrong, I love that my family and friends enjoyed my book and I need that kind of cheer-leading. Believe me, I do. The answer became clear.
One of my closest friends offered to connect me with some readers who also happened to be a part of my target audience. I had an ideal situation. The beta readers had never met me, and would be completely honest. I knew I had to take advantage of the offer.
I gathered up the readers' emails and attached the manuscript. I sat in front of my laptop waiting for Gmail to send it for me. It didn't take long for me to realize that I needed to click send. The butterflies swarming around my stomach were not helping matters. I waited a few more minutes just staring at the computer screen. But then I reminded myself- nothing ventured, nothing gained. I can't sit here forever. Click.
Now, I wait.
I am not a patient person, but I know it is a necessary trait in the publishing business. While I am waiting for feedback, I continue to research literary agents, consider some writing contests, and outlining my next book. Did I mention that I am impatient?
I've got to start doing some yoga.