Bubble gum, bubble gum in a reed,
How many Betas should you heed?
Okay, that was totally lame, but I just don't have the brainpower to come up with anything clever.
My question is coming at the beginning of this post: How many Beta readers do you need?
I'm really interested in knowing. I've been reading about how people have betas in the double digits. Of course, this terrifies me a bit. Then I start to do this: Do I need that many? What if just one more person points out something that could be fatal to my MS? What if s/he says the same thing as Beta C or Beta D? What if this? What if that?
The "What If?" game is only effective in writing. Not in anything else, trust me.
I sent my WiP to 7 Betas. They were awesome. Pointed out great things, some things were suggested multiple times by different people. I did revisions and actually asked a couple of them to reread those parts.
Do I think I needed more Betas? Absolutely not.
And here's why.
Sometimes you can have too many cooks in the kitchen, yanno? Then it isn't helpful, it becomes a blood bath. People pointing out all different things. You frantically trying to revise everything, instead of the places that really need it. For me, this causes major freakage. And frankly, I don't have time for that. Of course I want my MS to be the best it can be before querying. But I believe that this can be done with a handful of trusted, honest, wise Beta readers. More is not always better. In fact, it's all in WHO is reading your novel, not HOW MANY.
For example, lets take a look at the pantheon judges--which your Betas should be. That's why I have it capitalized. They are that important to me. They are my pantheon judges. And that means that you don't need billions of them. And going through all their comments? That can take weeks just by itself. I think it's best to have only a few people that you trust explicitly so that you can best use your time to get your MS ready.
So onto the pantheon judges.
American Idol: 4 judges. Used to only be three. And if you've ever seen the show, you know they don't always agree. They have different things to say. Just like your Betas.
Best Food Network Star (starts soon!): 2 executives, usually a chef judge, sometimes an additional celebrity judge for a total of 4. Again, too many cooks....
Survivor: A jury of 7 individuals who've played the game. This is perfect for your MS.
Heck, the Supreme Court of this country only has 9 people making the decisions. Life and death ones. New laws, unconstitutional stuff. In my opinion, I definitely don't need more than that reading my novel. Especially if they are of the caliber of Supreme Court justices. And mine are.
So maybe that's where you should start. Are your Betas Betas with a capital B? Or are they fish? Are they honest, trustworthy, well-read in the genre, knowledgeable about the publishing industry, writers themselves?
What do you think? Have you benefited from having dozens and dozens of readers? How many do you usually choose to read your novel before submitting it? Why do you choose that many? How has it worked for you?
I'm so interested in this. Let me know! I feel some chartage coming on....