Thursday, January 14, 2016

Desperately Seeking Beta Readers, or How Did Jane Austen Do It?

What Did Jane Austen Do For A Beta Reader? 
I am always, it seems, urgently seeking a fresh beta reader. Writer friends who have not read my first pages are busy. I rewrote the opening chapters, and have an agent eager to read the revision, but do not think it wise to send them until someone intelligent and thoughtful has vetted them for me.
I got to thinking, how did Jane Austen handle this? I know she read her work aloud to a sister.

Rumer Godden describes a similar thing, taking her sister, Jon (also a novelist) out on a boat in Kashmir and reading an entire draft to Jon, whose only response is, "It won't do, Rumer."

Rumer and Jon Godden, Sister-novelists. 

The Bronte sisters were obviously a fan-club/critique group for one another, at least while they were all alive.
What about people who don't have literary siblings? What can we do?
What do you do? How do you find the perfect reader for your sci fi, fantasy, romance, thriller, or--in my case, literary fiction that is, hopefully, accessible? 
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