Feedback & Test readers – Who’s who? (Part 2)
Who should you ask for feedback on your text?
As a writer, you have plenty of opportunities to get feedback on your books and texts, both the already published and especially the material you haven’t finished or that you’re still working on.
It can be a little difficult to grasp, who can help with what and that’s why I’ve gathered a little guide for you here, where you can see some of the different types of test readers and what they will often be able to do for you, before you send your manuscript to a publisher or press “publish”.
As I see it, there are two categories of readers, who can help you, before your text is done. There are the Professionals and the Beta readers.
Beta readers could be your friends, family, coworkers, strangers or other writers and aspiring authors you know.
It’s called Beta readers because they are testing the reading experience before the ’product’ (your text) is completed and still missing some editing or chapters.
Professional readers are typically the editors, proofreaders, dramaturges and others who work professionally with words, texts and stories in some capacity.
(Read the blogpost on beta-readers here>>)
Who does what? – Professional readers
Editors are typically the ones who decide whether or not a book should be published. These people know if your book can sell, who the target reader is and which parts of your book works the best. They look for stuff like language and perhaps grammar too. Editors can guide, counsel and give you feedback on how the text can become a finished manuscript.
It’s important that you are read for constructive criticism, especially if the editor works for a publisher. You need to be aware of the fact that the editors will have an opinion about how your book would fit into their brand if they publish it. Be clear about what your story is about. Talk to them about it, if there are some advice you feel doesn’t work with the story you intended to write.
Proof readers basically proof read your text. This means, that they primarily handle grammar, sentence structure and the likes. They can help you making the text more reader-friendly and correct. They often don’t give feedback on the plot or the story itself, such as characters, dialogues etc. But they can make any text look professional by editing out the small errors, spelling mistakes and the likes.
Dramaturgs are people like me. We are trained in storytelling (mostly within performing arts). Dramaturgs are good with things like dialogue, character work, worldbuilding and spotting plot holes. They are mostly useful when your text or idea is still in the developmental phase and before you send it to the proof reader.
In general, dramaturgs primarily work with theatre and film manuscripts and performing arts, but we are easily found within the literary world too. Here you will get constructive creative feedback, that takes your story into account. It will focus on the story and on your strengths (and weaknesses) as a writer. Be prepared for the dramaturg to ask a lot of questions, as we like to make you think instead of providing our own ideas or answers.
Both editors and dramaturgs are great if you want some qualified help with the contents of your story. The editor especially, if you want to aim it at publishing.
No matter who you choose to ask for help, you have to decide up front, what you need from them and then tell them in a nice way. Tell them what they can help you with specifically. Maybe you could even draw up some open-ended questions for them to answer when they’ve read your text. Make sure you and your test-reader both know what the deal is. That way no one’s feelings get hurt, especially if it’s someone you know 😊. No test-reader is better or worse than the others, as long as the agreement is clear. You should also have a feeling that this person can really help you become a better writer!
Always remember to thank people for their help – useful or not!
Is there a type of test-reader missing from my list? Do you have any experience with test-readers? Make sure you tell me about it in the comments below!
I would love to hear your experiences with test-readers and getting feedback on your material, and if you’re considering asking a dramaturg for help, please don’t hesitate to contact me, I’d be happy to tell you more about what exactly I can help you with. 😊