noun: reader; plural noun: readers; noun: Reader; plural noun: Readers
a person who reads or who is fond of reading.”the books of Roald Dahl appeal to young readers”
- a person who reads a particular newspaper, magazine, or text.”Times readers”
- short for lay reader.
- a person entitled to use a particular library.
- a person who reads and reports to a publisher or producer on the merits of manuscripts submitted for publication or production, or who provides critical comments on the text prior to publication.
- a proofreader.
- a person who inspects and records the figure indicated on a measuring instrument.”a meter reader”
… Which, in my humble opinion, doesn’t really describe readers at all. And because it’s my opinion, and my turn to blog on the Writing Wenches website, I decided I’m going to give you the real definition of a reader.
Which, of course, is not a very easy definition to explain.
You see, there are all kinds of readers. I’m talking beyond slow, fast, and middle of the road. It goes deeper than that.
First, there’s the Beta Reader. Few have the pleasure of this particular reading activity. Beta Readers are an author’s best friend. The front line, the marines. They read books before anyone else even knows they exist. Sometimes, they read books a chapter at a time. Sometimes, they read the entire book in its roughest draft. Beta Readers have an important purpose in life: they tell an author (honestly) if that book is worthy of publication. Or, in author terms, they lift up or destroy dreams.
(Okay, that was a little drastic. Don’t let my definition dissuade you if an author friend asks you to be a beta reader. Really. It’s an honor, I swear. No pressure…)
Beta readers don’t get to read purely for enjoyment. They are reading and looking, analyzing, dissecting. They are responsible for telling the author if the first paragraph (page, chapter) is catchy enough, or if it drags and should be cut. They are responsible for telling an author if the plot is believable or interesting or doesn’t get entirely wrapped up by the end of the book. Some beta readers (simply because we cannot help it) tend to be something of a grammatical editor as well. First drafts always have grammatical errors. We’re all human, even writers.
Another type of reader – equally as important to the author – is the ARC reader. These are the lucky ducks who get to read the final draft before it’s available to the general public. An ARC reader’s responsibility is pretty cut and dry – and outrageously, incredibly, super important to an author—they are responsible for loving our books and publically acknowledging it on websites such as Goodreads and Amazon.
Okay, maybe that was a tad biased of a statement, and I suppose it could get me into a little bit of trouble from the ARC readers’ police. So I guess I should rephrase. ARC readers are responsible for reading a book in its entirety, and then giving an honest review on websites such as Amazon or Goodreads (or both – and their blog, too!).
Unlike Beta Readers, I suspect that often, ARC readers do not comprehend the importance of their role in an author’s life. Whereas Beta Readers are handpicked and often talk one-on-one with an author, giving them the good, bad, and ugly; an ARC reader may not necessarily have a personal relationship with the author. They may have won that ARC copy via a contest, or simply by signing up for that author’s newsletter, or because they are a friend of a friend of a friend of… Sometimes, an ARC reader could be reading that book simply because it was free, and hey, who doesn’t love free books?
Let me clarify, ARC readers: you ARE important to authors. You can make or break us, or leave us hanging… wondering, wishing, thinking, Am I not good enough for a review? So please, if you are given an ARC to read, please, please, follow through, and leave that review. Whether we tell you or not, authors appreciate it.
This leads me to my final definition of a reader. This is the person who quite literally reads for pleasure. It is Friday evening, and this person has no plans. She has arrived home from work, changed into pajamas, poured a glass of wine (not necessarily in that order), and is standing in front of the refrigerator, door open, contemplating the contents. She may choose to eat the leftover pasta from the night before, or the questionable Chinese takeout from last Tuesday. Or she may order pizza. Or better yet, pour a bowl of Cocoa Pebbles and call it a night. (Cocoa Pebbles, for the record, taste better with red wine than Fruity Pebbles do.)
And then she curls up on the couch, e-reader in hand. She may even spend a few minutes perusing the options on cable, debating whether a Nicholas Sparks movie is what she’s feeling tonight.
It’s a book she wants. Romance, preferably. Paranormal? Contemporary? Spicy? Steampunk? Erotica? The list goes on. But the list hardly matters. It’s simply that she wants to get lost in another world, to immerse herself in an author’s words, to let those words create visions and fantasies in her head, to believe, for however long it takes to get to the happily ever after, that she is living in those pages.
The Reader. Just, The Reader. This person reads simply for pleasure. She may get the book for free, she may pay top dollar for the hard cover version the day it is released. She may read it cover to cover, staying up until three in the morning because she’s almost finished, or she may read a few chapters here and there, while she’s waiting at the gynecologist’s office or on her lunch break during the work week. The definition of The Reader, truthfully, is broad.
But The Reader is who it all comes down to.
The Beta Reader is important because he/she catches the little things, helps the author figure out whether this chapter makes sense here or there, ensures the loose ends are all wrapped up. The Beta Reader tells the author if the book is truly worthy of publication.
The ARC reader is important because he/she commits to telling the public their opinion on a particular book. They are committed – even obligated – to post their opinion on sites that matter, such as Goodreads or Amazon or Barnes and Noble. Even better if they go that extra mile and post their review on their own blog, and tweet/Facebook it to the world.
The Reader is the person who buys the books. The reason Beta Readers and ARC Readers exist. The reason authors exist. The reason libraries and bookstores exist. It all comes down to The Reader.
Now, if you want to leave a review as well, The Reader, well, hey, we appreciate it. Really. We do.
More than you can ever imagine.
Speaking of reading, the Writing Wenches have an anthology coming out on December 1st, and the Cover Reveal is on November 4! You should join the fun. CLICK HERE for details.