I cannot emphasize the importance of beta readers. They keep you grounded, keep you inspired, and keep you from going out on submission with your fly unzipped. Hmmm...looking at that picture above puts the word "submission" into a whole new context. Anyway, moving on.
Last spring, I got together with Bonnie R. Paulson and Shelley Martin and we formed a critique group. However, though we kept in touch, the critiques stopped over the summer and fall due to a lot of other things things going on, the release of Bonnie's novel, BREATHE AGAIN and my book deal, to name a few.
We just reunited and we now have Michel King joining us. After our first meeting, I'm now remembering the benefits of the group. No only do I get excellent feedback and quick fixes on my mistakes, but I am motivated to write more. Our first session was 20 pages each...but Bonnie wants to step it up a notch and do 30 next week. I'm now remembering how I completed a novella in under two months last Spring. Besides the imposed deadlines to get stuff to them, my beta readers increase my productivity by keeping me inspired to please them.
As I write, I think, "Ooh, Shelley's gonna laugh at this part!" or "Bonnie's gonna call me on being cheesy here...how else can I word it?" and now, "Michel's going to want me to describe this part more." So it's like they're with me all the time and because of them, I'm not only getting more work done, but it is better quality than it was when flying solo.
Also, it is beyond wonderful to talk to someone about my stories and characters and have them completely understand my struggles with them. Writing a novel can be a lonely quest.
AND, I have the bonus of reading their awesome stories before anyone else!
Keep those whips crackin' ladies. I'm honored to return the favor.