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  • Writer's pictureMichael Jaymes

7 Ways An Alpha Reader Can Improve Your Writing

Updated: May 28

What Is An Alpha Reader?

If you've been in the writing space for awhile, I'm sure you've heard of Beta Readers. Perhaps you've even hired one or traded manuscripts with a friend to Beta Read each other's work.

But have you ever heard of an Alpha Reader? If you haven't, let me introduce you to the world of pre-editing your draft and the power of having an Alpha Reader on your side!

What Is An Alpha Reader?

Alpha Readers, sometimes referred to as first readers, are readers that read your work before anyone else. This can be a single person or a group of people, and it can be someone you hire or an avid writing buddy you trust.

Typically, Alpha Reading is done by another writer, someone who understands the structure of writing and crafting a compelling story or message. This is different from a Beta Reader, as Beta Readers are typically your ideal audience that read your genre and provide feedback based on their personal reading experience.

Most alpha readers will focus mainly on the way the story is unfolding. In other words, they are not there to fix every single grammatical mistake you have (although, some still do this), but instead, are there to give constructive cricicism on the manuscript itself.

As an alpha reader myself, I like to explain it this way:

My job is a lot like being a home inspector. I evaluate potential problems, and provide a report on what I find.

For fiction, this can include things such as:

  • Characters

  • Theme

  • Plot Development

  • Originality

  • Dialogue

  • Sentence and Paragraph Flow (Pacing)

  • Setting and Description

For non-fiction, this can inlcude things such as:

  • Intentionality

  • Engagement

  • Relatability

  • Pacing

  • Application

Maybe you're saying, "Okay, this all sounds great. But why would I hire an Alpha Reader when I have bBeta Readers and Editors that will do the same thing later on?"

Here are 7 reasons why you should consider hiring an Alpha Reader!

Reason 1: Alpha Readers Don't Need A Finished Manuscript To Start!

One of the greatest parts of hiring an alpha reader is not having to worry about having a finished manuscript. This means that you can hire an alpha reader right off the bat.

This is especially beneficial for writers that aren't confident in their writing or storytelling. If you think you need some advice early on, that's what an alpha reader is there for! They can come to your aide, whether you've written 100,000 words, 10,000 words, or even 1,000 words.

Plenty of my own clients have reached out when they have only written the first chapter. There is still plenty of analysis I can provide just on a few thousand words to help improve your writing early on and ensure you're starting off in the right direction.

Reason 2: Alpha Readers Find Plot Holes Early!

Another great reason to hire an alpha reader is for them to catch your mistakes early on. Having readers that can spot mistakes is essential, but don't you think it'd be better to have that mistake caught as soon as possible?

Think about it.

Let's say you finish your entire story before someone tells you about a plot hole you missed... a plot hole that drastically changes everything! Devastation will cloud your senses. The feeling of defeat will cause you to crumble. Who wants to go back and change or delete all the hard work they put in?

That's why you have an alpha reader. With an alpha reader, you don't (or shouldn't) have to worry about plot holes haunting you later on. It's part of an alpha reader's job to find plot holes, remind you of promises you make to readers that need to be fulfilled, and provide the feedback you need in order to fix or avoid mistakes before they rear their ugly face in the future.

Reason 3: Alpha Readers Ensure Your Book Idea Is Actually Interesting!

If you're worried about having your book fall flat, an alpha reader can help identify if your book is actually interesting. The good news is that most ideas are not bad ideas. We all have ideas that are worth sharing. The problem is that sometimes a good idea is poorly executed.

Poor execution takes place when a writer hasn't considered their theme, when the writing style is bland, when the purpose of the book is unscertain, or a multiplicity of other reasons.

Alpha readers can see this from the very beginning. They can help point out where you can spice up a scene, where a paragraph needs more detail, where the direction of the story feels unscertain, where the plot feels undefined, and where your story feels boring.

Reason 4: Alpha Readers Can Help With Brainstorming!

Having an alpha reader follow along as you write each chapter can be a great way to receive initial feedback on the plot as a whole, and if you get stuck, they are there to help give ideas on where it can go.

You never know! They might see another angle. They might think that one of your lines can act as the perfect foreshadow of events to come. They might have a different perspective on a character's decision-making. They might think that something isn't spoken about enough.

Whatever the case may be, an alpha reader's feedback can play a large role in developing your story, making a positive difference in the coming chapters you write.

If you ever feel stuck, an alpha reader can be a breath of fresh air, giving you some new ideas to work with on your story.

Reason 5: Alpha Readers Will Point Out Under-Developed Scenes And Characters!

Going along with Reason 2 stated up above, alpha readers help point out mediocre scenes and characters that might feel empty. Oftentimes, writers can see the full-picture in their mind when they write the story, not realizing all the details they left in their head and not on the page.

This goes for non-fiction as well. Your main character is the reader! Your alpha reader will be able to evaluate if your target audience (reader) can relate to your topics or not, or if they need to be defined. Many non-fiction books start off with a relatable problem, explaining why the writer is writing on a specific topic. Some books have this at the beginning of every chapter. If this relatable problem doesn't relate to the target audience, they won't be interested. An alpha reader can help evaluate if your relatablily factor is under-developed, helping with suggestions that pack a more emotionally-charged punch!

Reason 6: Alpha Readers Provide Invaluable Writing Advice!

One of the key reasons alpha readers are so useful to have on your team is that many of them are writers themselves (or at the very least, study the art of storytelling). This is important, as it gives you a perspective that many beta readers won't have.

Beta readers often read a book giving feedback on what they like or dislike, based on other books within the genre. On the other hand, alpha readers give feedback based on the writing itself. Unlike beta readers, alpha readers aren't comparing your book to others; they are comparing your book to the science-backed beliefs of good storytelling.

While beta readers are important and can help you learn things from other writing styles in your genre, they may lack that piece of advice only one who knows the art would have.

Think of it this way:

Perhaps you have a car that makes a ring-a-ding-splinka-dee-boop noise every time you turn over the engine. Your friend might say, "that doesn't sound right," and they're probably right. But can they tell you why? Probably not. So who would you turn to? Most likely, a mechanic, someone who not only knows, "that doesn't sound right," but also exactly how to pinpoint and solve that issue.

The benefits of having writing advice provided during the writing process will not only improve your storytelling capabailties as a whole, but ultimately, will lead to a much cleaner first draft that you can be proud of when finished.

Reason 7: Alpha Readers Keep You Motivated!

In my opinion, this is by far the greatest reason you should consider hiring an alpha reader. Both from my own experience and from working with clients, having someone read over your shoulder that knows what they're talking about is so encouraging!

Not only will they be able to point out your weaknesses and strengths as a writer, but alpha readers will also praise you when they see improvement, talk about how excited they are to see where the story goes next, and be your cheerleader on the sidelines as you work on each chapter.

As a writer, you'll be fueled with enthusiasm to continue writing your story, having the motivation it takes to actually finish your book!

Are You Interested?

From these 7 reasons, I hope you can see the major benefits of having an alpha reader.

If you're looking to write a book, actually want to finish it, and want to improve immensely during the writing process, then I would highly recommend considering an alpha reader.

And if you're looking to hire an alpha reader, look no further. I offer alpha reading at an affordable rate for both fiction and nonfiction writing. Whether you've written the whole book and are starting another draft, are somewhere in the middle, or haven't even began, I'd love to serve you with my alpha reading assistance, providing line-by-line feedback and an overview analysis on each chapter.

Reach out! Let's write that book! :)

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