I’m from the high-tech world where a beta test is the penultimate step before a product is released on the public. Until recently, however, I hadn’t contemplated that “beta” would apply to literature (although I believe fiction writers have been taking advantage of beta readers for some time – with varying degrees of formality).
So, with my latest book, I’m diving into the world of beta readers.
This book is a departure from the historical fiction of my previous endeavors. An Ordinary Tragedy is non-fiction – the true story of my brother Scott who, from an early age, was a deeply troubled youth. From the intimate perspective of eldest child, I explore the dynamics of my perfect All American Family – attractive, polite, moderate in prosperity – and the secrets we kept. A family like any other.
In writing the tale, I relied on several of my brother’s friend and acquaintances to fill in the gaps of both my memory and experience with Scott. I have, of course, asked them to read the draft manuscript as well. However, these reviews are intended to correct any liberties I inadvertently took with the facts as well as to glean their thoughts on the approach.
Beta readers, on the other hand, are intended to provide feedback on flow and relevance – things that someone embroiled in the story (such as Scott’s friends or me) might overlook. In my case, I’ve also chosen two people who have a unique set of skills involving psychology – which should highlight any issues with the manner I’ve used to convey both Scott’s and my own psychological state at the time.
I can hardly wait for the beta feedback.