I often get asked this question when trying to help new author friends. What is an alpha reader? Isn’t it the same as a beta reader? You would be surprised to know they are a bit different. I will go on to explain why and how helpful each can be.
Let me explain what an alpha reader is and how it can help with your writing journey. Alpha readers are more like the first reader. He or she will read it as a work in progress. It could be from start to finish or after your first draft. You will want to allow them to see the overall structure of how your book is working. Are there plot holes that need some filling in?
The idea is to have a trusted reader who can spot issues the writer has missed or has a blind eye too. You don’t need to have tons of eyes reading your work one or two is sufficient.
Some authors don’t use alpha readers but it can be the best start to your writing journey. The sooner the better, you want to limit wasted effort that might get reworked or even tossed out based on the feedback from the alpha reader.
Your alpha reader is kind but honest about the work you have put hard work into. Someone who will encourage you as you venture to the next step. Sometimes the alpha reader will read as you rewrite and fine-tune your book. They will also let you know if you are heading in the right direction.
The beta reader is someone who will read your work that is almost completed. The earliest beta reader will come when you have completed self-editing and the book is as good as it can get. Some authors even wait until their book is ready for production meaning they have gone through content, copy editing, and proofreading.
Your beta reader can be a friend, family member or a co-worker. The idea is that they read your manuscript as if they were a casual reader. Beta readers should give you honest opinions while giving the strengths and weaknesses.
I choose to be an alpha reader because you get to take that ride with the writer while being there to support them as they take different steps to make a book a masterpiece. It gives me a sense of joy to be able to help others. I have been taking several courses and classes to help polish my skills.
Here are a few sites to follow along for your writing needs and to be a supportive outlet.