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  • Writer's pictureLaura L. Zimmerman

My Beta is my Alpha and why I feel stuck

So, I’ve been doing this writing thing for a while now. (Technically ever since I can remember.) Even before I published my first novella back in April, I had done months (read: years) researching publishing options, reading books and blogs on honing my craft and basically trying to figure out how to hit this thing without looking too much like a newbie. (Not sure I accomplished that 😉 )

So pretty much since day one of pubbing the “Now I Sleep” series, I’ve been stressing about those Beta readers. Ya know, those people who read your work after it’s mostly edited, and are willing to give their honest opinion to help out that author with the brain that’s turned to mush throughout the writing process of this amazing-work-of-art-over-which-they-are-no-longer-able-to-be-objective? Yeah, them. Well, I had one solid beta. I tried to get more, I really did. I sent out PDF’s of some of my work to multiple people. But most of them either didn’t bother to read it, never finished it or just didn’t have much to say about it. (“It was good” wasn’t exactly what I was hoping for.)

So, I’ve got this one beta, and I’m thinking, “That’s ok, more will come along.” But then one day, I’m reading a blog and a brand new word is thrown out. My world stopped and all I could think was, “Whaaaaat?!”



Bam. One word and my world changed. I’m all like, what the heck is that? So, I do what anyone living in the twenty-first century would do – I Googled it – and of course came up with a million and one posts about the subject. And ya know what I found? There are actually quite a few writers (well established) that had never heard of that term either! (Before they blogged about it, anyway.) Not that they hadn’t been putting alpha readers to use, just that they had not used particular name when referencing them. And guess what? So had I! So, it hits me all at once – I’d been using the only beta I had in my arsenal, as my alpha, all. this. time. Ugh. 

See, an alpha reader varies from a beta slightly, in that they are the first person who gets their grubby paws on your work. Definitely unedited, absolutely before major plot changes, and unequivocally when the entire manuscript stinks. But they are precious to the writer, in that they give not only an honest opinion, but may offer thoughts on redirecting the plot – or, the thing I always dread hearing from my alpha – rewrite! This person is instrumental to a writer and valued like a cup of Guatemalan coffee. (For me – not sure what your prized possession would be 😉 )

So, here’s my dilemma. I now know, I have an awesome, amazing, splendiferous alpha reader (one who is thanked in every single novella I’ve published!) but I apparently now have zero betas. Like none. *frowny face*


What to do, what to do? Well, I’ve been researching that (for the past month, actually) and I’ve got a few ideas, although none that I feel 100% confident in, just yet. Ideally, I’d love to have a handful of betas – a good core group of people that are not necessarily my friends, who would have no problem giving me an honest opinion of my work. Will I get there? Oh, most assuredly – although the timeframe is still up in the air 😉 (Apparently, this type of thing takes time, which is just no fun for an impatient person like myself.) Basically, I know I’ll get there, if for no other reason, through sheer stubbornness on my part.

What about you? Are you a writer who struggles to find beta readers? Do you even have an alpha in your pocket who’s opinion is worth their weight in gold? Leave a comment below! I’d love to hear where you find your betas and your journey through the world of betas, alphas and everything in between 😉

Happy Reading, friends!

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