Nope, I'm not singing the Go Greek song this morning. Instead I'm talking about a writer's best friend.
Many writers say these two words reverently, like they are mythical, with the power to bring dead people back to life.
Of course, they're not. Our beta readers are usually our friends. They are people we trust with our awkward newborns. The ones with red faces and smelly diapers that only look beautiful to the person who created them.
My beta readers are kind. Kind enough that I trust them not to kill any of the babies I send them via email. Who are my beta readers? Their most interesting trait is probably their lack of diversity. They're all well-educated, mothers, intelligent, competent, opinionated and successful in their chosen careers.
The other thing they are is busy. Yet, they still find time to put aside anywhere from twenty minutes to novel length hours to read my work. Because they are kind they never rip my work to shreds.
What they will say however is, "I'm sure that chapter was fine but I just kind of skimmed over it."
Or, "That discussion in the bar seemed a little odd. Wouldn't they have more questions"
Or, "The title bugs me."
Okay, the last one is harsher than the rest but I've never been particularly good at titles and they all know that (and are probably tired of getting texts from me with new titles).
The most valuable thing about my beta readers is their ability to pinpoint what is lacking in my work. If I listen carefully and cut out the chapters they skim through, fix the discussions that are 'odd' and address any other concern (no matter how nicely worded) the book is better.
I've learned the hard way what happens when I don't carefully parse and address my beta reader's every comment. My other readers, the ones who read the book after it's been structurally edited, line edited, combed for typos and groomed for mass consumption invariably have the same comments.
So no, my beta readers can't raise the dead. But they do have an uncanny feel for what the reading public will like. The good news is my beta readers loved Losing Beauty. The bad news is they get to read Losing Hope before you do.
But in the long run waiting isn't such a bad thing. After all, if the betas readers like it then I'm pretty sure you'll like it too.