Your work is important. You’ve spent months writing and editing and now you feel it’s set for publication. Before you push publish you need to know that your opinion of matches the opinion of other readers. Clark Chamberlain and Peter Turley teach you all about how to find beta readers, and how to use their feedback in editing your work.
After you listen to the show scroll down for some helpful links and a questionnaire you can send to your beta readers.
Prefer to watch?
Beta readers can be the author’s best friend.
They will help you find plot holes, failures in character arcs, confusing scenes, clunky dialogue and more. There are a few things to consider when asking someone to beta read your manuscript.
First, do they read the genre that you are writing? Having a beta reader who loves romance but you’re asking them to read horror is the wrong fit. A beta reader who consumes a lot of your chosen genre will help you discover if your story is hitting the needed tropes.
Second, do they have an independent opinion? Even if your mother reads voraciously in your genre she will never be an appropriate beta reader because she’s to close to you. You need to find beta readers that will tell you the truth but also understand your vision.
Third, do they want to write it their way? There is nothing worse than having someone tell you how he or she would have written your book. Your beta readers should not be rewriting your book, they should answer your questions.
The last thing you want to do is hand your manuscript to some one and ask “What did you think of my book?” The response will not give you the specific information needed to edit your manuscript. You want to give your beta reader clear instructions about what you are looking for and when you need it done.
When creating a questioner make sure you don’t lead the beta reader. Don’t ask “Did you feel scared while reading this chapter?” instead ask “What emotion did you feel when reading this chapter?” Think of specific questions you want answers for and then create a short questioner for the end of each chapter. You want to have the questionnaire after each chapter to help the beta reader give you the feedback you need. If you just have one questionnaire at the end of the manuscript the beta reader won’t recall everything from each chapter. Also, place an overall questionnaire at the end of the manuscript to get their opinion of your work as a whole.
Here is a short questioner you can use to help point your beta readers in the right direction:
What were your thoughts of this chapter?
What emotion, if any did you feel?
What do you think of the characters in this chapter?
Did you need to re-read any part?
Did the end of the chapter make you want to turn and read the next chapter?
What sort of story would you categorize this as?
Any other thoughts?
Be respectful of your beta readers time.
Unless you are paying them you should expect some of your beta readers won’t finish your book on time. When you ask them be clear on the day you need it back. Plan on roughly a day for every 5k words. So if your manuscript is 90k words ask your beta reader to be done in three weeks. Even if you have six weeks before you need it back tell them three weeks so they don’t procrastinate too long.
After you’ve set the date and sent them the manuscript follow up half way through to thank them again and remind them of the date. Give one more reminder a few more days before it’s due, again saying thank you. Finally on the due date tell them you need it back and thank them for their time. If they don’t respond don’t ask again. Be aware that of all the people you ask to beta read only 10% of them will finish. So if you want one beta reader ask ten people.
If you don’t have local readers and writers to ask to beta read here are some online groups that you can try:
Subscribe to the Show
Prefer to watch?