Finishing writing a book is not synonymous with sending it to a publisher for publication. There are several intermediate steps from the time the final draft is written until it reaches the hands of an editor, and one of the most important is to detect possible errors, spelling mistakes or to detect elements that make it difficult to read.
While it never hurts to make a revision, or two or three, after having finished writing a book, it is also advisable to have a zero reader. Especially for first-time authors, it is advisable to show your manuscript to these people in order to have a positive critique of your work. After such a long time locked between the pages to be written, one’s own vision and objectivity may be somewhat flawed.
Who and what is a beta reader?
A beta reader could be defined as a person who reviews manuscripts in order to highlight possible flaws that may prevent a book from being ready for publication. This is someone who is used to reading and who knows the genre of the work presented to him or her. His figure has been gaining importance in recent years, even becoming more professional.
The zero reader should not be confused with the spellchecker. In this case we are talking about a figure who reads the work and gives an opinion on it, testing the quality of the manuscript. It will be a personal and subjective opinion, but backed by the experience of having swum among books for a long time.
Nor should the work of a zero reader be confused with that of a reading report. In the first case, what you will get is an evaluation similar to that of the target audience for your book; in the second case, what you get is an evaluation from a publishing house indicating whether your manuscript has the necessary characteristics to be published.
Why do you need a zero reader?
If the opinion of the zero reader is subjective, why do you need one? Wouldn’t an objective view be better? Keep in mind that although it is a personal perspective, it must be backed up by this person’s track record. That is, it will be someone who knows the literary genre you have written about and the rules that govern it.
In this way, in addition to your own vision as an author, you will have that of a reader like the one who might buy your book. And, it is always better to have this potential critique before you invest in the publication and distribution of your work. Especially if you are a new writer who does not have any evaluation of your texts.
For this reason, we recommend that you not only have a zero reader, but also try to contact several of them so that you are not left with only one vision. Ideally, at least 5 of them should have immersed themselves in your manuscript and answer a questionnaire about it.
Qualities of the zero reader
Throughout your literary adventure you will meet several people who will offer to be your zero readers, however, you must take into account a series of characteristics to decide on one option or another. Among other qualities, you will have to take into account the following:
- Sincerity: The zero reader must give you an honest opinion. Subjectivity is not incompatible with this quality. Therefore, as the old saying goes, “he who loves you well will make you cry”. In this case “the good reader zero, has to criticize you”.
- Regular reader of the genre you write: A science fiction reader is not advisable if you have written a book of poetry, and vice versa. In this way you will also get closer to the vision of your target audience.
- Constructive: A zero reader should provide constructive criticism, not make mistakes where there are none. At the end of the day, the aim is to find a vision that will improve the quality of the manuscript, not to undermine the author’s morale.
Types of zero readers
Two groups of zero readers can be distinguished: those who take their passion for reading and for a specific genre to the point of wanting to help authors as much as possible (amateurs) and those who have professionalized this activity to the point of offering a complete service.
- Amateur reader zero: This is a passionate reader, of a specific genre, who offers his services as a reader zero altruistically to new writers. They usually only ask for a copy of the manuscript or, if necessary, of the work once it has been published. Keep in mind that their activity time will be subject to other routines such as their usual work, so you will have to adjust to their schedule and there will be no agreed time.
- Professional zero reader: In this case we are talking about people who have taken the job of zero reader to a new level. They are usually writers with a certain trajectory within the genre you have chosen. In this case you will have to make an economic investment, but they will offer you detailed reports where they will focus on key aspects. They will also respect the terms agreed in the contract to read your manuscript.
How to contact a zero reader?
If you have already decided to use the services of a zero reader, it is time to contact them. If you don’t know how to do it, here are some tips to help you locate this support in your literary adventure:
- Social networks: On platforms like Goodreads you will be able to find readers who love the genre you have written about. You can also review their activity and their reviews of other books of your style and find out if they are the person you need to help you as a zero reader.
- Your close group: Sometimes you only have to turn your face to see if you can find a zero reader in your group of friends, family or work colleagues. Surely within this circle you will find the right person to give you constructive criticism on your manuscript.
- Literary forums: Remember that the zero reader is passionate about the literary world, so it is not surprising that we can find them in these portals. In fact, we can even take advantage of the many forums dedicated to the world of books to ask for help from one of these people.
- Libraries and reading groups: Just like literary forums, these physical spaces will allow you to find people interested in the genre you write about. With kindness and education you will be able to ask for this help and ask them to be your zero readers.
- Professionals: On the Internet you will find several professionals dedicated to the job of zero reader. In any case, you can ask the publishing house where you are going to publish if they have contact with any of these people so that you can get closer and start working together.