What Are Alpha Readers?
“Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers.” – Issac Asimov
Every story needs fresh eyes for feedback and editing. However, the first eyes on your new story can be some of the most crucial. I find that after the first round of feedback from my alpha readers are when the biggest changes in my stories occur and the most rewrites.
It’s important that your alpha readers are people you trust to give honest & constructive feedback. It doesn’t do you any good to get the generic “I liked it.” My alpha reader group is very small, 4-5 people on a given pass. They’re reliable and sometimes brutally honest. If something doesn’t work for them they tell me and can provide specifics and suggestions. Copy editing is second fiddle in this group, and that’s fine because flow and overall story elements are what I want them to focus on.
Having a core group of readers that you can send a first draft to and feel comfortable allowing them to tear it apart knowing that they will ultimately help you become a better writer and create a better story are really why these readers are the most important in the editing process.