Imagine your best friend or spouse pushes you into doing something you aren’t interested in doing. They are so passionate about this new activity/project/hobby you do it anyway because… hey, you love them. That doesn’t mean this will ever be something that moves you.
Beta reading the wrong genre or a story that doesn’t interest you is like that except you think you’re just reading something different.
It’s easy to help with the technical aspects of the writing but I wouldn’t say it’s easy to give good developmental advice on a genre you don’t read.
I don’t read westerns. I think the closest I came was reading a quarter of a book by Louis L’Amour and half of Gunslinger (And I don’t think Stephen King counts for the genre…ROFL). I accept it isn’t my genre. My perspective may offer some gems here or there but for the most part, it probably wouldn’t hold my interest.
If a book is good enough that I want to read it even though it isn’t my genre (which is awesome in those cases where it happens) I still inform the author I don’t usually read books like theirs. And most are flattered by that admission but it also gives them different expectations for your feedback.
I’m an avid reader of science fiction. Some of the writing in this genre can be a little dry and a lot of times it’s written in Omni POV (I can think of a few recent exceptions like The Hunger Games but for the most part). The fact that I know what to expect stepping into this genre gives me the patience as a reader to wait for the world to develop. Or the style of writing to grow on me.
With my novel, I had trouble locating the right readers. It’s out of my genre so I had to figure out where my market was. And taking the time to read other things that are similar has also really helped with my process.
For a girl that’s used to complex world development and action, literary was a bit a harder for me to wrap my head around. It’s still a work in progress.
I’m not saying readers should never read outside of their comfort zone, it can expand your horizons and make you think about stories in a different way. There is something challenging. But I will warn you, your expectations of the story will probably be different if you are used to a different genre.
If you find yourself reading something that holds no value to you though — stop reading it. Writers can accept when it just isn’t your cup of tea.When it isn’t your genre. There have been a few books lately I’ve had to turn down because I realized I couldn’t realistically help them.
The world of writing is vast and there are many interesting stories out there. If you want to beta read, make sure you’re reading stuff you believe in because not everything can be the right thing for you.
Believing in the story makes me as a beta reader passionate about helping the writer I’m working with is worth everything in the world.