What Does a Beta Reader Do?

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Title: What Does a Beta Reader Do?
Creator: ltlj
Date(s): March 20, 2001
Medium: online
Topic: fanfiction, beta
External Links: the site: The Less Than Legendary Journeys: Guide to Writing in the HtLJ Universe, Archived version, link to the post: The Less Than Legendary Journeys: What Does a Beta Reader Do?, Archived version
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What Does a Beta Reader Do? is an essay by ltlj.

It was posted in 2001, when the term was still new, and it was advice for the many new fanfic writers who were encouraged by the increasingly availability of online access.


A beta reader should be more than someone who just says "great story!" or who gets to preview a story before it's posted on a web site or mailing list. If the writer doesn't want actual story criticism from the beta reader and isn't willing to consider her comments and suggestions, then there really isn't any point in wasting the beta reader's time. (Of course, if the writer is that much of a prima donna, the chances are good that it's a waste of time for anyone to read the story.)
There's also no rule that says you can only have one beta reader. Get different opinions, think about them, think about your story before you post it. After you finish your story, wait a few days, then read it over again before posting it.