The end goal of authoring and publishing a work of fiction is to connect with readers. But readers are important before publishing too. Just like game or tech developers test their product by engaging beta testers, so authors use beta readers when they have a solid draft. Usually, a writer has written and self-edited at least a second draft of the novel before it’s ready for beta. Earlier “testers” might read parts of a novel, or the whole thing while the first draft is in the making. Those first readers are called, as you might guess, alpha readers.
Want to know more about alpha and beta readers?
Here are links to a couple of articles that provide a good overview on the topic. While the target readers for these posts are writers, the information works for everyone.
This article, written by author Aigner Loren Wilson, is aimed at writers. But the information is valuable for people on both sides of the author/beta table. Among other things it gives the following list of what qualities make a good beta reader.
- Supportive readers
- Honest and fair critics
- Readers within story’s genre
I’m betting you’re that kind of reader. If so, and you read YA Fantasy, read on—I’m looking to find betas like you for The Sun Child Chronicles.
This blog post, on a book formatter’s site called Word2Kindle, gives an overview of how to get into beta reading if you haven’t already done it, and has some great information on resources for beta readers and would-be beta readers.
Are you the reader I’m looking for?
Of course, each author has specific needs when it comes to what they’d like early readers to do for them. For the Sun Child Chronicles, I will ask beta readers to read each revised or book in the series when I’ve got a solid draft ready. I’m interested in hearing from readers who’d like to be on board for that process—I’m not there yet, but it won’t be long before I have book ready.
I’d like to gather alpha readers for a special project. Book 1 is being more extensively revised than any of the rest of the series. In fact, though the story hasn’t changed, the first chapters in book 1 will be almost entirely rewritten. I’d like a small team of readers willing to read the old chapters and the new and answer vital questions that will help me get it right for publication.
If you’re interested, please contact me!
You can comment here on the blog, or try a message on Messenger, but possibly the best way to reach me would be a Direct Message via Twitter. Once we’re in touch, we can discuss the project. I will appreciate all feedback from alpha and beta readers, and I’ll do my best to make it a rewarding experience.
Find my Lou Hoffmann Books page on Facebook
On Twitter, I’m @Lou_Hoffmann
That’s all I’ve got on early readers today, but here’s a tiny snippet from that rewrite of Key of Behliseth’s first chapters (rough, unedited, but hopefully tantalizing).
A long snippet, or a short excerpt
To set the scene, Lucky has fled the place he’s called home for the last year and gone to an abandoned, decaying “housing projects” where he’d stayed before, a place used by many homeless people. Sammy, the teen he runs into, was once a friend.
He picked up his stride—it didn’t pay to look too lost or aimless in a place like this—and kept his eyes moving, scanning the street the covered porches, the shadows between desiccated shrubs. At first everything seemed ordinary enough. But then, oddly as if conjured out of his thoughts, he saw the boy who’d given him that kiss a year ago coming toward him along the dinged-up pavement.
“Lucky! What are you doing here, man? Haven’t seen you for ages.”
“I been staying out… on the edge of town, an old house.” Lucky’s shack and what he was doing for money these days weren’t exactly secrets, but something stopped him from being more specific. Though he was no stranger to these sudden intuitions, he still wished he knew what that something was, where the silent warning came from.
“Got you a sugar daddy or somethin’?”
“Hm. Too good for that, too, huh?”
Lucky was hit hard enough by that remark that he took a step back. “You know it ain’t like that, Isamu.”
“Don’t call me that.”
“It’s your name.”
Sam stepped closer—too close—and breathed right in Lucky’s face. “Shut up about it, okay. But listen, can you help a brother out? I hear you got yourself a little business. You must be doing all right. You’ll share with me won’t you, sweet thing?”
“Aw, you know how I feel about you. And speaking of names you ain’t never told me yours. Tell me that, and I’ll call you by it proper.”
Lucky wanted to say, all I’m going to tell you is to take your alcohol breath and needle tracks and get out of my face. Instead, his name—his real name—started to bubble up on his tongue. “Luc—”
He choked it off, and was about to flee—something he was good at, since being able to run fast kept him out of jail and who knows where else. He had no parents, no papers, no past, no identity. If a cop or even a social worker pinned him down and started asking questions, he’d probably end up in an institution.
But speed didn’t matter at the moment, because everything changed. The darkness hovering in shadows seemed to flow out to cover the already strangled light on the streets of the old projects. By the time Lucky’s vision adjusted Sammy had turned his back and walked ten feet away, and then he vanished.
Shapes came toward Lucky—human shapes, more than likely, covered in black robes with hoods pulled up to shadow their faces. They took mechanical steps and chanted. Lucky blinked, trying to clear his mind of what must be hallucinations. But when he looked again, not only were the black-cloaked people still shuffling toward him, but the world had slipped away.
He glanced to the sides and behind him—yes, he was still standing in the projects, but out there… in front of him lay a rocky field of ice.
Thanks for reading!