Donna Maree Hanson interviewed the lovely Joanne Anderton about her experience with beta readers (ie. gracious volunteers who help an author by volunteering their eyeballs and feedback). Here's a sample answer from Joanne:
Beta reader feedback is invaluable. They see things that I do not — plot holes, boring parts, big picture stuff. They notice problems that I’ve been trying to ignore, and don’t let me get away until I fix them. They bring fresh ideas to a story, help me see paths or themes or twists and turns that I would never have seen on my own. They’re also encouraging. They support me through the bad times and celebrate with me through the good ones. A good beta reader is like a good personal trainer! They keep me honest, make me work to the best of my ability and then push me that little bit further.
I've had similar opportunities to provide beta reading for (and receive it from) local authors whom I've come to know online and in real life. It's very helpful, even if only to help you toughen up a little and remind you that not everything that comes from your fingertips is golden...
Read the full interview here: http://donnamareehanson.wordpress.com/2012/05/14/beta-reading-interview-number-8-joanne-anderton/