One of the things I keep going on about, and am often asked to explain further is the concept of having a great pre-launch team, or Beta Readers.
Who are they?
Maybe friends, family, colleagues, or other writers. Maybe perfect strangers. But often the best people to have on your team are fans of your books. People who will give you straight up advise and feedback about what they do and don’t like about your manuscript – before you publish it. You can recruit fans in all sorts of ways, but mostly I get mine through my social media accounts. When I’ve finished a manuscript, I post about it, and ask for beta readers.
These people may offer editing tips, and tell you about the many mistakes you still have in your manuscript, but taht’s ok. Forewarn them they will be there for finding. This process is usually part of your pre-edit phase.
Invite them to tell you what they do and don’t like, what they would suggest you add, change, or think about. Invite them to review your manuscript formally with a letter outlining your expectations for their getting an advance look at your latest work in progress. (If you sign up for my newsletter, you can obtain a copy of the beta readers template I use, among other resources available FREE on this site – just head to the bottom of the screen.)
You must remind them that editing and proofing is not what you’re seeking – but that all errors will be gratefully noted. And invite them to look out for the finished version which will be published and available etc. But also ask if they like the book, to please post a review on Amazon please.
And most of all, remember to thank them for their time and response. You might put this into the acknowledgements, or send them a personal note, and a printed, autographed copy when it’s published.
Most of all, the value of having a good team of beta readers is that the dozen or so key readers – some people invite more, but I find that hard to manage – is that they are fresh eyes on your manuscript. Even your editor and publishing coach can end up getting too close to your work to be able to step back and see some of the missing bits or overplayed parts easily.
Fnally, a warning. You have to be thick skinned if you want real objective feedback. You may not like the critiquing, but it’s worth having. And then you will have additional writing to do. But chances are you will also have a much better book as a result.