We all know the value of beta readers, who test out our completed manuscripts and provide the feedback we need to revise and whip them into shape. But I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge the people who read our work as we write it. Sometimes they’re called critique partners, but I like to call them alpha readers.
What would we do without them? Sometimes the only thing that keeps me going on a first draft is my alpha readers cheering me on, bugging me for the next chapter, demanding to know what happens next. Don’t get me wrong – they can be critical, too. They let me know if a chapter lacks enough emotional impact or if one of the characters has acted out of character. Their initial feedback after each chapter helps me gauge how I’m doing … and where I’m failing.
They put up with a lot, too. I don’t know about you, but my story is constantly evolving in a first draft – and I write “fat.” Alpha readers have to read scenes that will later be cut, sub-plots that will be snipped, and characters that disappear. Names change, too. Aloycius becomes Bert (because I got tired of typing Aloycius), and in the next draft, he might not even exist. (Oh yeah, alpha readers, did I mention I might merge Hester and Bert into one character? That will give me, what? Hert? Bester?)
Anyway, I want to thank the alpha readers on my current project for prodding me on, even when I have my doubts: my husband, my daughters, Marcy Hatch, Krystalyn Drown, and my parents, who loaded half the manuscript onto their Kindle and took it with them to Aruba. I don’t dare quit now, even though I am, admittedly, a little stuck …
P.S. Since I wrote this post last weekend, I got myself unstuck. BUT, I also received editorial notes on another manuscript that same day, so I can’t apply my new sense of direction to the WIP just yet. Sorry, alpha readers.
Alpha readers are the best. Mine definitely put up with a lot. Have a great weekend!
I have two critique partners. One is more of an alpha reader, the other definitely beta style. I think I’m solidly both. I can’t NOT comment on something alpha related, and I will nitpick every sentence for grammar. It takes me forever to do a single chapter because I can’t stop myself at looking at everything.
*SIGH* It would be so much easier if I split the job into two phases…
Alpha readers – Critique Partner – not near that courageous yet.
I have to be honest. I’m still not sure if I use Alphas or skip over to Betas. Do your Alphas become our Betas and how do you know the difference? (I feel a blog post coming on.)
I’ve learned I can’t hand over a manuscript to my CPs until I’ve finished a complete draft. I might show a tiny bit here or there as a tease, but other than that I find it too inhibiting knowing someone is reading over my shoulder as I write.
You’re very welcome, and thank you for doing the same for me. I hope those revisions are going well!
I have ARC Advanced Review Copies readers. Not sure if this qualifies as alpha readers but they sure are awesome and a huge help!
Oh those alpha readers are brave, brave souls! They get to see the raw (and often horribly flawed) stuff of mine.
I let readers read a few things here or there while I write but the bulk of reader feedback comes after I’ve finished a draft. I’m not worried about sucking, I just feel I need to finish a full draft before people see huge chunks of it. But I’m curious to know in more detail how you work with your alpha readers 🙂
I haven’t had an alpha reader in forever. Actually I think I only really had one with my first book and after that I just waited until i finished the first draft to send it to betas (for the reasons you mentioned- the changes, switches, eliminations of characters etc…) I guess I just like to figure it all out in my head first and get it down before taking anyone else’s perceptions on. But alphas are some pretty cool people- reading and rereading the beginnings of a manuscript without complaint. Go alphas!
It sounds like you have an awesome group of alphas. Most of mine have passed away, but I’m pretty sure my writing didn’t kill them.
I think it should be Herbert 🙂
Sounds like you have some amazing Alpha readers.
I’ve only had one Alpha reader, and that’s been my wife. Everyone else read the finished manuscript, and since I’m an outliner there aren’t many dramatic changes to fear. Not sure if I’ll approach it differently for the next one. 🙂
Yes I adore my alphas. They help me see the forest through the trees. 😉
After every writer’s group, I just want to take them all out for ice cream. I ADORE my alpha readers!
Yes, those alpha readers are such good sports, but they provide so much valuable input.
I’m glad you are unstuck. 🙂
Our alpha readers/cp’s are more than just our first editors they are our cheerleaders. I know I appreciate everyone who reads for me or lets me read for them.
Have a super weekend!
I’m a big fan of alpha readers too!
Yes! Alpha readers are the best. They’re my husband and two of my friends who are just the greatest. You’re right, they keep you motivated in those early stages where you might quit. :p
Yay for yours! <3