Tuesday, September 22, 2020

What Kind of Feedback Do You Need: CPs, Alphas, and Betas

Spin the wheel of feedback, whose input do you need? 

[insert The Price Is Right big wheel spinning sound effect here]

These definitions are by no means industry standard (mostly because there isn't a standard), these are my interpretations. YMMV.

  • Critique Partner (CP) -- A fellow writer with whom you exchange (not necessarily at the same time) works for developmental feedback. How's the pacing? The characters' development? The plot? The throughline for the plot? etc. Based on a CP's feedback, major structural overhauling may be required. 
  • Alpha Reader -- Similar to the Critique Partner, only these readers aren't necessarily writers and there's no exchange of works. They're reading for the Big Picture. Feedback from an Alpha reader can lead to major structural edits.
  • Beta Reader -- The book they get is baked. They're reading as consumers to gauge how the book is going to hit the market/fan base. Feedback from these readers may include fine-print corrections that slid past the teams of editors. Changes based on Beta's feedback should be minor and involve no more than changing a word here or a sentence there.
Don't let the terminology define your feedback-relationship. If you need more or less from a reader/partner let them know when you establish the relationship. With each book you send them, be very clear what you need from them and when you need it. We all work better when we know what's expected of us. 

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