Beta Reader vs Editor: What’s the Difference?
When you finish writing a book, you can’t just send it off to the publisher without editing it or getting some feedback on it. But proper editing and just getting feedback and two very different things. Editing is done by a trained editor who checks for grammar and punctuation errors and gives you feedback on the technicalities of your novel. A beta reader is someone who reads your book and gives you feedback purely from a reader-centric perspective. They don’t edit your book, but give your feedback on your story, whether it’s appealing or not, how is the pace, and so on. But what are the major differences between a beta reader and an editor? Let’s see:
Who is a Beta Reader?
A beta reader is someone who gives you feedback on various aspects of your novel. They will tell you what works and what does not. Some questions that beta readers answer are:
- Are your characters developed well enough?
- Was your storyline easy to follow?
- Were there a lot of plot holes?
- Was the language easy to understand?
- Did it get stagnant at a point?
They will give you an idea of the first impression of your book, so it’s very important to take their word seriously. Try to keep the pool of beta readers that you send your book to small and limited to the larger target audience that you are targeting, otherwise the adage ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’ will not cease to be false! You don’t have to act on each and every piece that you receive, after all it’s your book and it’s totally up to you about what you want to do with it. But it’s important to at least keep these at the back of your mind and think about them seriously if the beta readers are of the target audience that you are aiming at.
Who is an Editor?
The editor’s job is help you polish your manuscript into something that’s ready to publish. They are trained and far more suited to do this job than a beta reader. Apart from developmental editing, editors will go through your draft line by line, fixing or identifying issues. Editors also:
#1 Will evaluate your story arc. Is it too jarring? Is the story moving ahead at a glacial pace? Are there gaping holes in the story that need to be fixed? This is also known as story editing, which your editor will do.
#2 Give you feedback on your characters. Are they too flat? Do you need to flesh out your characters properly? Your editor will help you align your characters with your story and the conflict in the story, which brings out other perspectives to their personality.
#3 Help you with feedback on your theme and fictional world. After a good story edit, you will probably have to rewrite a lot of your book, which will make it cleaner and more clearer as a whole.
#4 Copyedit your story. A very crucial aspect of the whole editing process, copyediting comprises:
- Language errors, which include punctuation, grammar, and spelling
- Repetitive information, words, and sentences
- Unnecessary description
- Unclear passages
- Passive language
- Too many adverbs
- Sentence length variation
- Consistent spelling checks
- Consistent hyphenation, fonts, and capitalization
There are many types of editing; line editing, copyediting, story editing, developmental editing, and structural editing. A book might need one or two levels or all levels at some point in the editing process, it all depends on your book.
The difference between a beta reader and an editor is night and day, but both are important to the progress of your book. We’d recommend that you don’t completely depend on a beta reader to get feedback on your novel because they are not professionally trained (in most cases) to do so, and will give you feedback only from the perspective of the audience or the reader. An editor on the other hand, is trained to look for structural and grammatical errors in your text and will be able to help you better with your novel.
To get proper, substantive feedback on your novel, send it over to PaperTrue’s editors, who are specialized in fiction editing and will give you detailed and expert feedback on the structure of your novel, characters, dialogue, and so on. To know more about our author editing services, go to PaperTrue!
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