When I first began my long road into publishing, I didn’t really know what a beta reader was and I thought it might be helpful for other authors to know exactly what they are.
What is a beta reader?
A beta reader is someone who reads your work after you have written it, but before you publish it, and who offers feedback and criticism. A beta read isn’t usually an editor though and what they do is completely different.
What feedback does a beta reader offer?
A beta reader will critique your novel and look at developmental and/or content issues, such as plot holes, character development, story arc, setting etc. Some authors also ask their beta readers to help with grammar and proofreading. But you should be careful with that as beta readers are not usually editors.
Who can be a beta reader?
A beta reader can be anyone — a friend, family member, a fellow author, an unbiased stranger, or avid reader, etc.
I used a stranger recommended by my editor on my first novel, Denai Touch.
How many beta readers can you have?
As many as you like. I’ve heard of other authors having five beta readers.
Should I pay for a beta reader?
Some readers do offer paid beta reading services. I paid for a beta reader as part of my editing process and I have to say that it’s definitely not worth the money. I had an awful beta reader and I would definitely recommend that you use someone for free.
When should you get beta readers?
Again, this is up to you.
Some authors use beta readers before finding an editor to fix obvious issues with their work.
I used a beta reader after my novel had been edited. I’m actually using 3 for my second novel.
How do you find beta readers?
Much like finding an editor there are many different ways of finding a beta reader. Here are a few ideas:
- Ask friends or family members who read a lot/or who like your particular genre
- Ask your blog readers/followers
- Ask fellow authors from online communities or writers’ groups
- Join a critique partner website
- Put out a call on social media
- Search social media for people who read books like yours, then ask them
- Have a look on Goodreads – I hear this is a great place to find beta readers.
Do you have to do everything the beta reader says?
No, I didn’t. In the end, it’s your novel and you decide what to do with it. All I did was change a couple of inconsistencies.
Have you used beta readers before and what was your experience with them?