Something I’ve heard, and read, a lot is that writers shouldn’t choose people they know well to evaluate and comment on their draft or manuscript. I’m going to respectfully disagree with that theory, though it may be valid in some circumstances (for example if you have the type of mother who thinks everything you do is perfect). Luckily I don’t have friends and relatives who are willing to compromise their literary standards to spare my feelings!
When I asked people to read for me, there were a few qualities I was actively seeking:
- People who regularly read a lot of nonfiction and knew what compelling and grammatically correct writing should look like
- A diversity of ages, sexes, professions, and interests. You want people who will be similar to the wide demographic you hope to reach with your book.
- Readers with direct experience in either higher education (as students or professionals) or college transfer
- Individuals who would not only notice what was there, but who would also be savvy enough to question what might be missing
- Readers who would take the time to go through the pages I gave them carefully and write notes in the margins so they wouldn’t forget their observations. Also who would be willing to answer my questions in a follow-up dialogue after they were finished reading.
- Folks who wouldn’t be offended if I didn’t follow every single suggestion they made. I will note that I usually told them why I chose not to though so they could argue the point further if they chose.
A final tip-Don’t just verbally thank your readers; take them out for a meal or a drink or buy them a small gift to show your appreciation. Good readers are not always easy to find and who knows when you might need them again!