editorIt’s funny the things that come into your life that you never expect.    I’ve been an editor before,  at newspapers,  for yearbooks,  and certainly of my own work.   I always thought I was pretty good at editing,  and I even occasionally thought of it as something I could do to make a living,  but I never really seriously pursued it.  While I liked helping make good writing better,  there was also the tedious work of trying to make bad writing better,  and that didn’t really appeal.  Throw in the people who wouldn’t listen to good advice,  and it seemed easier to pursue creating my own stuff than it was to help others refine their work.

Sometimes,  though,  the unexpected opportunity comes along and helps you see things in a new light.   In this case,  I made a friend who is also a writer,  and a good one,  who was working on his second novel.   He self-publishes,  and he was looking for beta readers,  which is really self-publishing speak for editors,  who would read his work and make suggestions for how it could be refined.   Essentially,  a beta reader is,  as the name implies,  a second reader,  someone who is removed from the work who can look at it with an impartial eye.   Since I knew I was a reasonably good editor,  and since I’d enjoyed this author’s first book very much,  I offered to be a beta reader for the second book.   I wasn’t sure if I could help,  or even if I knew how to go about being a beta reader,  but it seemed like something I could do,  and if I could be of help I wanted to do so.

Beta reading is a different experience.   you have wear lots of different hats while you read.   One hat is that of a simple reader,  someone who’s just reading the story for enjoyment and pleasure.   Another hat sits on the head of an editor,  someone who’s looking for spelling errors,  continuity problems,  poor word choices and other issues of that sort.   The final hat is that of a writer,  someone who understands structure and pacing and storytelling.    Once you’ve read the work while wearing each hat,  you have to put on your psychiatrist cap and synthesize what you’ve found into feedback that helps the author,  and conveys your suggestions firmly,  but not crushingly,  positively,  but not over optimistically.   Being a beta reader is a challenge,  but it’s one I found quite exhilarating.

I’m pleased to say the finished book is now out  and it’s awesome.    I’m very pleased to have played a small part in helping the final version become what it did.   This is definitely a book everyone should read,  particularly if you like sci-fi or alternate world stories,  and I’m not just saying that because I have some small connection with the book.   It’s a book that really stands on its own as a unique work with a unique viewpoint,  while still being an immensely entertaining and thought-provoking story.     I highly recommend reading Evertime and This Album full of Angles,  and anything else Will Reichard writes up to and including his shopping list.

As for me,  I’m thinking I might have discovered something I’d like to pursue further.  While I will never stop writing my own works,  helping other writer’s works come to fruition is strangely satisfying.    I’m definitely open to more experiences of this type.