On Beta Reading The Wrong Genre

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.

 

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7 thoughts on “On Beta Reading The Wrong Genre

  1. I’m going to offer a different viewpoint. I work with a dozen authors who beta read for one another. It’s been enlightening to hear critical feedback from a literary fiction writer or a poet or a dystopian cyberpunk author. It’s incredibly rewarding to hear from a biographer, as I did today, “This is incredibly well written. I would never read it, but it’s flawless.”

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I can agree with the insightful-ness. I don’t think you’re wrong there. I still think it’s important to find some readers that are your target audience. But having some readers that wouldn’t normally read your genre can give you a different take that may bring you in a whole new direction. I don’t believe that you shouldn’t do it. I just think that the writer needs to know that you don’t read it. 😀 Thanks for sharing!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. There is a lot of value to this insight, especially to new authors like myself who know almost nothing of finding an audience, let alone a beta reader. I had never really thought about the expectations someone brings to the reading, but that is absolutely vital. I too have heard from several people that “I don’t usually read sci-fi, but I liked what I read” or “I usually don’t do sci-fi, but your story pulled me in”. I think it’s important to have people from both camps take a look. Those in your genre can tell you how it stacks up, and those outside can share what makes your work stand out to others. Thanks for spreading the wisdom 🙂

    Also, I have nominated you for the Liebster Award! Check out my post to see what it’s all about and how to pass it on to other bloggers!
    https://weavingthewolfsong.wordpress.com/2016/03/03/liebster-award-who-needs-the-oscars-anyway/

    Liked by 1 person

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