I've written fan fiction for years and in that genre we've used beta readers. Wonderful, skilled people who like me write short stories, poems, novella's, novels, but their purpose is to help us build our story without editing it for us.
You're probably thinking, I know this already. I have a beta reader that works with me or for me as the case may be. I thought I knew it to. Until I got a real eye-opening heads up.
I have an awesome beta reader, she's thorough, she's tough, and she's honest - perhaps a bit too honest at times- but that's another story. We've worked together before on projects and I wouldn't trade her help for the world.
But, I've come to learn that any good writer must have a critque partner. Ha, you say, it's the same thing. Nope, it is not. A critique partner is very much like an editor. They catch the errors that you the author have missed before you send it to a beta reader. There are several very well thought out, lengthy job descriptions for each one and I won't get into that. I will however submit to you this tasty tid-bit. If you've got a work done, if it's been looked at by you and you've done more rewrites than there are road bumps on a backwoods road, and you're happy with it...
Take a deep breath and find yourself a really good critique partner to look it over and point out any and all errors that you've missed. Do your rewrites, polish it until it's brighter than Las Vegas's strip at midnight, then find yourself a beta reader.
Pish posh you say. They're the same person. They could be but remember this. If you send something to a beta reader to be betaed and it takes her longer than say 72 hours to read the thing...you need a critique partner.
This week I'm going to try and do a whole series on the benefits of both, and I welcome any comments or suggestions. If you've got any questions please comment and I'll try to answer them as best I can based upon my experience.