When I sat down across from my beta readers after they read an early draft of my first book, I expected that I had already fixed most of the major issues. I was prepared for “more about X, less about Y, why does Z do this? I don’t get it” kind of comments. Instead, I got something wonderfully enlightening: I had made consistent, stupid mistakes. I knew I wasn’t happy with my first 50 pages, but I couldn’t have told you exactly why. All I knew was that it needed to be ‘punched up.’ Instead, I found that I made a few crucial mistakes, like overuse of the word ‘had’ and the fact that NO ONE had a conversation in my first TWO chapters. Yes, that kind of bad.
Looking back, it’s terribly obvious. But as you write your own book, you will miss major errors like that. You’re focused on the idea and the feeling, less on the wordy minutia. I went through the book once after I wrote the wrote the first draft. I wanted to do my own revisions before I gave it to my beta readers. I caught some smaller issues and added some excitement in the middle of the book, but I missed SO much. I should have taken a month break away from it before I edited it.
Enjoy the experience with your beta readers, take criticism and keep in mind, your beta readers don’t have to be writers, they just have to read and pay attention!