Posted in writing

The Difference Between Alpha and Beta Readers

penNo one writes their books perfectly the first time. Wouldn’t it be nice if we did? Then we wouldn’t have to edit.

Unfortunately, most writers do have to make corrections and revisions. It’s a long, drawn-out process that’s a lot less fun than the actual writing. In some ways, though, it’s more important. But not all of us writers are at the point where we have professional editors on speed dial. We rely on a network of self-help books and computer programs, of writer friends and English teachers we bribe with cookies or actual money.

Then we get to the point in our editing process where we need to know how we’re doing.

That’s where alpha and beta readers come into play.

What is an alpha and beta reader?

I recently learned about alpha and beta readers. I already knew about beta readers, but not alpha.

Beta readers are the people who read your story for the sake of reading it, and tell you how you did. Whether they liked it or not, what worked/didn’t work–stuff like that. These people can be one of your writer buddies, but often it’s a member of your audience. Who you are writing the book for. They read your book at the end of the writing and editing process, just before you’d send your precious baby off to the publishers.

Alpha readers are different.

The way I understand it, alpha readers get your story first. They read your rough draft and do critiquing for you. They might be your writer buddies, or someone who knows a lot about grammar. Once they get done with your story, it’s probably bleeding red. You will feel terrible with all that’s wrong with your story, but that’s okay. After all, it’s just your rough draft, and you’re going to do more edits anyway.

That’s the key difference, the way I understand it. Alpha readers get the story when it’s raw, when it still needs lots of help. Beta readers get to enjoy the nearly-finished product.

Without knowing it, I have had both alpha and beta readers helping me write my story. I can safely say that every serious writer needs both kinds of readers to help make the story the best it can be. You may not call your alpha reader by that name–they may simply be your editor. But still, you need someone to help you find the diamond in the pile of rocks you call a story.

If you have more questions, may I suggest clinking on this link.


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