We are always curious about how our users use BetaReader.io. This time, we talked to indie author Leticia Toraci, who writes short stories from her home in an idyllic small town in Bavaria, Germany.
Tell us a little about yourself. What do you typically write?
I typically write science fiction and fantasy. I mainly write short stories but I am also considering developing some of them into novels. For a couple of years now I have also been working on a fantasy with sci-fi elements book series.
How important would you say that beta readers are for your books?
Extremely important. A second pair of eyes has often showed me flaws that I overlooked in my manuscript.
How many beta readers do you typically draft for a project?
I do as many beta reading rounds as necessary for my projects. As an example, since each writer has a different process, my short story collection had the useful insight of around twenty beta readers during two different rounds, and I’m considering a third round on the revised final manuscript with at least ten readers before I publish.
What kind of feedback or information do you look for when running a beta?
Each beta reader gives feedback in a different way, so the information can be anything from a general opinion to thorough comments on your manuscript. A full critique on a line-by-line basis is normally beyond the scope of beta reading, so I usually ask for a reader’s opinion on the strong and weak points of the story, characters and writing style, even if I greatly appreciate detailed feedback, too. I also more than welcome negative criticism as long as it is done constructively, not everyone has a bestseller on his or her first draft, even if some bestsellers look like one LOL. Positive comments are also very encouraging to any writer, especially if they are in the beginning of their writer’s journey, but you will only become a better writer if you fully regard your manuscript’s flaws and work on them.
Did your test on BetaReader.io render any insights that made you tweak your story?
Yes, through the received feedback I saw that I should organize my short story collection around a common theme with the stronger stories first, instead of how they were organized before, by writing order. This seems like an extremely simple presentation aspect but one I had not thought of due to this being my first time self-publishing a short story collection.
I also received amazing suggestions on how to expand most stories and even develop some of them into novels.
I also got a good first impression on my book’s targeted audience and how to revise and improve the stories based on their feedback.
What are your best tips for other authors who are thinking about starting to work with beta readers?
It would be to be open-minded and accepting of your beta reader’s opinions without taking negative comments or honest opinions personally. No first draft is perfect, and rewriting and improving your manuscript is the way to go to achieve a better result.
An author must above all act on the feedback he/she has received by learning the writing and revision craft continuously and applying that knowledge thoroughly. Dismissing the flaws on your first draft will not improve your manuscript, nor make it a book worth reading.
Would you recommend other authors or publishers to use BetaReader.io? Why / why not?
Absolutely! I am not tech-savvy, and I could still upload my manuscript on BetaReader.io without difficulties. The app is a great way to organize your feedback, and it has an extremely helpful customer support, they even added a beta reading swapping feature in a matter of days after my feedback. With the feature “Suggest a swap”, you can choose a manuscript you would like to beta read in exchange for the other author’s feedback on your own manuscript.
The app is also a great place for readers to get directly involved in helping authors to write better books and writers to get honest reader opinions before they send their manuscript to a publisher or self-publish.
Leticia Toraci is an indie author based in Germany. She is currently testing her short story collection, Dream Sceneries, on BetaReader.io.