Alpha Reader

Ah, the alpha reader. The person you trust most in the world. This is the person to whom you turn with your writing first because he or she will immediately tell you how great of a writer you are and only then proceed to tell you everything about it that sucks. This person tells you the truth. For some this person is their mother, but as I have probably mentioned before, my own mother is not a literary person and after she told me to change some of my writing at 9 years old I never showed her anything again.

I have gone through a series of alpha readers (Kaity, Kiki, and Shelley) in high school and Gabby and I are kindred spirits and always read each other’s material any way. But my true alpha reader is a one Ralph J. C. Belvedere.

Background: Ralph is my dearest friend in the entire world. If I had to chose between him and giving up writing and singing, it would be him hands down. We’re the kind of friends who know each other and can be comfortable with each other without talking at all.

He’s also a boatload of fun. I mean, what person would agree to be the Ricky to my Lucy for Halloween with no questions asked?

or …

… I had some ‘splainin to do!!

Ralph was the first person I ever showed a completed novel that I seriously considered sending to an agent. He was the first to read through Becoming Mrs. Kennedy and give me his thoughts. Without being asked, he printed out the entire document, kept it safe in a an envelope covered in his exquisite calligraphy and added grammatical edits …

… commentary, i.e. “this makes NO SENSE!” or direct reactions to characters  “Reverse psychology is NOT GOING TO WORK HERE, DEREK!!!” …

… and humor.

The bottom line is, an alpha reader must do all of this for you. Sharing a first draft, or even a second or third draft, is so personal and frightening. If your alpha reader is cold and only points out the flaws without the good parts and humor to make you more comfortable with showing your work to others, he is not a good alpha reader. The initial first step toward publishing: showing another living human being your work. Without a good alpha reader … let’s not even think about it.

Side note, beta readers (people you reveal writing to after making changes according to the alpha’s opinion) are just as important and must be just as on top of their game. Good thing I have a great circle of fellow writers in the blogosphere! (sp? is that really a word?)

Ralph is my alpha reader for my novels, but also for my life. It’s a much better term for a wing-man isn’t it? Ti amo molto, il mio unico amore!!

Haven’t done this in a while …

Creative Writing Goals

Becoming Mrs. Kennedy – finish edit and write synopsis by the end of this week. SEND TO AGENT!! After I officially send it, I will post the first chapter (the re-written one with which I am much more content).

Rescue Me – Get Laura into college by Wednesday during free time between classes (ha! What a joke!! Who has free time when they’re taking 20 credits? Sigh. It will be done. A writer is never defeated!).

Damn Brits – I don’t even know. TBA.


About Miss Rosemary

is a recent college graduate from NY hoping to complete her novel of ten years. Stop by her blog, Miss Rosemary's Novel Ideas at or contact her at with comments, questions and suggestions. She'd love to hear from you! View all posts by Miss Rosemary

18 responses to “Alpha Reader

  • Kris C

    I am still holding auditions for alpha reader. Congratulations on securing yours! It speaks a lot to your friendship to have someone willing to read through an entire prepublished draft (although I’m sure that yours is a lovely read 😉 ).

    Good luck with the agent search!

  • Ralph


  • Maimoona Rahman

    Yes, blogosphere is a word.

    You’re blessed to have an alpha reader. I’m surrounded by a bunch of people who’d rather hang out at Papa John’s than read!

  • ollinmorales

    My alpha reader is my sister (love the term btw). She encouraged me even when I was a kid, and like you said gave me encouragement but still was willing to tell me what I could do to improve it. (Some people just give you the good stuff, which is great, but you need more as a writer.) I trust and value her opinion. I would not have made it this far without her, and I am not kidding when I say you would have never come upon my blog if it wasn’t for her. I would have never started it (it was her idea) and my current novel would have been in the trash (she encouraged me to keep writing it) which would have been awful, because I love my novel very much.

  • Lua

    YAAAYY for all the great Beta Readers in the blogosphere (finally- a word for it) 🙂 I truly love and cherish the circle we have here!
    As for the Alpha Readers- I couldn’t agree more, it is a must! Mine is also my best friend- Sed, who patiently read everything I wrote since freshman year and still does, she always tells me her honest opinion, she always gives her full attention and points out all the good stuff first (which I have to admit, really helps when it’s time to hear the bad parts!). I am so grateful I have her as my Alpha reader…

  • Barb

    I’m still looking for that alpha (or beta) readers… doesn’t help I write in a second language, most of my friends don’t speak English – the ones I’m most in contact with. Of course there’s the internet, and I’m sure eventually I’ll find those wire readers… I’m going to try YouWriteOn or Authonomy (and exchange manuscripts with my blogger friends?) and we’ll see!
    Your Italian is almost perfect, ginger-head… if you need help with it, I’m here! 😉
    Keep writing!

  • ryannenason

    on a totally unrelated writing note…adorable halloween costume! looks like you have a very close relationship with your alpha reader, which is a great thing – just ask stephen king!

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