You’ve probably heard both terms before, but chances are you’re not sure what the difference is between the two, especially if you’re at the very beginning of your writing journey. How are beta readers different to critique partners? Do you need both?
Let’s recap what we’ve learned about beta readers over the last few months.
Your beta squad:
- is recruited when you can’t think of anything else to change/when you’re sick of looking at your own WIP (don’t feel bad – we’ve all been there)
- helps you find the last few mistakes in your manuscript
- is the last stop before the final edit and publication
Critique partners, on the other hand, can come in at any time, and you likely won’t have as many, either – although that’s up to you, of course!
Your critique partners should be people you trust to be honest since they will likely have a huge impact on your draft. If you have an ideal reader, ask them! Here are some of the things your critique partners can help with:
- when you’re stuck halfway through writing the first draft, and need a second opinion on something specific, like a plot development or a new character
- when you’ve edited your manuscript once or twice already, but want another writer to go over it before you send it to betas.
- when you’ve applied the changes they suggested, but would like them to have another look after having rewritten that one annoying scene
- when you have any questions about your book at all
- when you need to bounce ideas before you even start writing
So, you see, unlike betas who come in at the end your critique partner can jump in at any time you need them. And there’s a reason they’re called partners – you should be willing to do the same for them. You could say it’s an exchange of help!
Like your beta squad, critique partners are unpaid. You’ll likely already repay them by doing them the same favour, but if you feel they deserve something extra feel free to treat them. While they are generally unpaid, there’s nothing that says you can’t gift them your book, a voucher, a drink, or whatever you think is appropriate!
I’ve had two critique partners go over Wardens of Archos for me at the same time as my editor did the developmental edit, and I can’t tell you how much my book has changed for the better! Thanks to my editor and critique partners, my draft is so much tighter. By the time my betas get to it, they shouldn’t have too much work to do – but I think we all know how this works 😛
Whether you work with both is up to you, but more feedback can’t hurt and once you’ve found a critique partner you trust and who gets you and your books, you can call on them again and again, knowing they’ll help you change your draft for the better.
And that’s it for the series on beta reading! I hope you learned a lot, had all your questions answered, and feel better prepared for this step now. If there’s anything else you’d like to know, please don’t hesitate to ask! Here’s a list of all the posts in this series again, in case you’ve either missed something or would like to remind yourself of a specific topic:
Don’t worry if you lose this link but want to come back to one of the above posts later – you can easily access them via the Writing Help and Tips page on the left 😉
The next series is all about character creation! If you want to know why weaknesses are just as important as strengths and why you don’t want a perfect character without flaws (among other topics), make sure you keep an eye on this blog!
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