Beta Readers For Your Book

  beta reader joke schultz

    LET’S FACE IT. Getting people to read something when it isn’t done voluntarily is very difficult. I know, I’ve both been on both ends of the stick. Unless you are an editor, getting paid to read things you don’t necessarily want to, when that request from a friend comes, for you to read their book and critique it…all of a sudden any initial enthusiasm disappears (usually!).

For those of you who have published, whether self-published or traditional, how did you make sure your book was read before going to print/e-book?

I have a couple of people I am lucky enough to know who will read my manuscipt once I’m happy with it, but ideally I’d have 5-10 readers. Every critique that is helpful can improve the reading which should correlate to increased sales. Beta readers are really crucial, the equivalent of screen testing prior to a films release. Without them it is so easy to miss glaring errors from grammar to timeline mistakes and the overall flow and structure. I don’t know if there’s a term for it, but call it writers fuzz: when you reach a point in the editing process where your brain is incapable of making sense of it anymore, let alone able to make improvements.

So where do you source your beta readers? Are there good alternatives online if friends are occupied/ taking too long to read the manuscript?

25 Comments

  1. I’m an independent publisher. Friends aren’t necessarily the best critical readers though it’s great to have them on your side. The feedback from a writers’ group is good for chapter analysis of style and more obvious errors – and one final reader for continuity. If one can afford to pay for a professional, on line or otherwise, so much the better.

  2. This will be my very struggle once I complete a substantial piece of writing. In my perspective, compared to other blog sites, it seems less people follow on WordPress to read and consume, than to get others to follow back. Maybe just the crowd I attract or maybe I’m making an entirely wrong assumption. I wish there was a closer knit connection that could form through wp. We all could use a healthy supply of beta readers (first time hearing and using that term)!

    1. Yeah I know what you mean. Commenst are like gold dust on here. As for beta readers through WP it could happen. My only gripe would be that I wouldn’t feel comfortable emailing someone my book that i’d never met and then trusting their feedback. It’s a tricky one. The other issue is family, if you rely on them, because in my experience they’ll always be positive when they maybe shouldn’t be. A few good friends should be enough to begin with. Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

      1. Absolutely. You read my mind… Constructive criticism is beneficial only if it’s the truth, so sugar coating a response wouldn’t help at all. In regards to sharing with strangers I worry more about them stealing content than guaging whether their feedback is of worth. I think joining a writing class or clinic… Or even a book club.. Would capture the best beta readers! 😁 Anyway, nice to meet you. Name is Jane.

      2. Yeah get beta readers in person – unless in the best case scenario its your editor!!!
        I might do that actually, join a writers group once I’m back in Edinburgh. And I’m Fionn 🙂

      3. Is dog story a short story? There’s a book that deals with the human psyche/dreams that I was working on but I’m on a very long hiatus from it because I was getting confused just writing it. Haha. So now I have writers block on how to make sense of it all and continue with the plot. I figure it’ll come to me one day. I’m in no rush to get it done

      4. Dog Story is a novel as well, about 10k words from a finish. As for your book just try and brainstorm it. If that fails write another book, and you’ll find you come back to it.

      5. Good idea. I’m more of a blogger/short piece writer so I find the greatest difficulty in staying focused on a novel… I’ll have to work on it! Time to crash. Good night love! Was nice conversing.

  3. I self-published, and didn’t really use anyone else, (my PTSD doc has written several acclaimed books, and she looked it over). I just became a detached and brutal editor – cut out about ten-thousand words. There were still a few typos and such but, overall, it fared well.

    1. Yeah brutal is a good word for it. I tend to cling on to words, passages, but I’m getting better at chopping things out. I’ve got so lost in my manuscript right now I need another set of eyes on it. Thankfully I have a few pairs of eyes, but I’m looking to get more.

      1. I know they are out there – an agent is one of the best tools – at least I would think so. They know people to vett things

      2. Sound advice. I want to get the book sorted as much as possible before even sending it off, but yeah a good editor would iron the kinks out. Chances of me getting a deal isn’t great…but who knows!

      3. I’ve read your writing – you can do it! Go to the bookstore and just pick up some random stuff. Have a look. Published, from publishers, and they don’t write nearly as good as you. Keep the faith!

  4. My friend I have never been published so I don’t have much to offer in terms of this post; but I was desperate to reach you. I had technical difficulties with wp and a picture was attached to my last post that shouldn’t have been so I had to delete it and re-do it. Consequently, it won’t allow me to respond or post your kind comment; but I do thank you for your kindness. 🙂

      1. My tummy knotted and I am thankful my son could help me fix it. I just felt so bad I couldn’t respond to or post your comment because I had to re-do it and delete the original. I wanted you to know what you said mattered, that you matter. Thank you for your understanding. 🙂

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