Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Beta readers

It is truly a brave new world. My friend and indie publishing mentor Jim Bruno responded to my question about how he vets his text before publishing by introducing me to the world of beta readers, proofreaders and copy editors that help clean up a self-published book.

Beta readers aren’t supposed to focus on grammar, typos, etc., but rather the substance and style of the story as well as characters. And you don’t necessarily have to pay someone to do this. There are folks out there who enjoy it and do it for free...Proofreaders come in various forms, but they generally bridge beta and copy reading...Copy editors are just like what you know in journalism – they nitpick for typos, format, etc.
I had hired an editor to work on The Grand Mirage and he was great, but very expensive. So for my forthcoming financial thriller I will go the route recommended by Jim -- two or three beta readers, a proofreader, and a copy editor.

I think it's great the way indie publishing is finding its way to make sure the ultimate readers of these books get a product that is comparable in quality to those from the legacy publishing houses. It is an industry that is evolving and maturing, and this is all part of it.

Let me take the occasion once again to express my appreciation for Jim's pioneering path in self-publishing and for his generosity in sharing his hard-won lessons. I literally could not have done it without him. Jim and I went to Columbia's School of International Affairs together many years ago, and he went off on a great career with the State Department before settling in upstate New York, while I pursued my own circuitous path to Washington. His political thrillers are great. He's about to finish his fourth, Havana Queen, and I can't wait to read it!

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