October 13 is International Beta Reader Appreciation Day, or possibly International Beta Readers’ Day, but never International Beta Reader’s Day, as it’s a day meant to celebrate all beta readers around the world.
The Harry Potter fandom has been marking Beta Readers’ Appreciation Day since at least 2000, when the ZENDOM mailing list hosted a Beta Reader Appreciation Day questionnaire and discussion. By 2002, October 13 found LiveJournal full of authors praising and thanking their beta readers for making them better, more thoughtful writers.
If you’re not familiar with the term, a beta reader is someone who reads a draft of your story and edits it for continuity, compliance with the canon (such as the Harry Potter books, or films), grammar, spelling, and, of course, magical spells. Some sites, such as SugarQuill, required new authors to work with a site-approved beta reader before posting a new story, while other sites allowed authors to choose their own beta readers, but would not post fics that had significant grammar or spelling issues.
Cons have consistently provided opportunities for authors to meet longtime beta readers in person, sometimes for the first time. Other attendees find a beta reader at cons, either in a formalized workshop setting or through informal conversations. At Azkatraz, Pokeystar was introduced to C by a mutual friend, and once they were home from the trip – and had caught up on their sleep – they started working together regularly.
If you’ve been a beta reader, or used a beta reader, why not propose a programming session about an aspect of beta reading, host a workshop to teach others how to be a good beta, or organize a meet-up of beta readers? Our meet-up request form is here, and information about submitting a programming proposal for a round-table or workshop can be found here.