Indie Publishing can be an expensive endeavour. Beta readers can help you trim costs while producing a better book.
What is a Beta Reader?
Beta readers are those very kind people who read your book and give you feedback before you publish.
Let’s divide them into two categories.
- Your ideal reader – someone who might pick up your book in the store, buy it, and read it. They don’t have industry experience outside of being a reader of books.
- Professional beta readers – people who know your genre, know editing, know publishing, or have some experience that makes their feedback valuable from an industry perspective.
Why are both types important? Your ideal readers are important as they mirror your market. If they like your book, others like them will like it. If they don’t like it, back to the drawing board.
Your professional beta readers give you different feedback. They can tell you about point of view, voice, character development, genre tropes, language choices, flaws in content and so forth.
So if your ideal reader will say yea or nay, your professional beta reader will explain why.
Where can you find beta readers?
Your ideal readers are probably in your network. They might also be ideal clients, past clients, and current clients. You don’t have to call them beta readers when talking to them, since they might not know what that means.
Professional beta readers can be found on Goodreads, Facebook, and other forums in beta reader groups. You can also google beta readers and find them that way. Word to the wise. Don’t pay beta readers. Make sure your beta readers know what genre your book is and that they think they can say useful things about that genre. I would never beta read for a SciFi author because I don’t know the market well enough. Other authors can be great beta readers too. If you are in a writers group, ask there as well. Again, make sure they know your genre and audience.
How to Work with Beta Readers
First go out and find beta readers, letting potential readers know the details and your timeline.
“The book is a YA memoir about coming of age in a dysfunctional family. It will be ready for beta readers on X date. I hope to have all feedback by Y date. It is a total of 60,000 words.”
Give potential beta readers the framework – genre, very short description, start and end dates. Giving this information lets people self select if they are the right fit and have the time available to help you.
Create a page for beta readers. On that page, set out your expectations and set timelines. Here is are the items I suggest you add to that page.
- A thank you,
- The type of feedback you want and don’t want,
- Questions you would like them to answer,
- Anything they need to know, such as content warnings, and
- Timeline for feedback.
What to Do Next?
Wait. Give your beta readers time to read and respond. Half way through the process, you might want to check in with them to ensure that everything is on track.
When you receive feedback, say thank you. Even if you don’t like the feedback. They still took the time to read your book. You don’t have to use the feedback; this is your book. You should still appreciate the time they took to read and comment on it though. If all the beta readers made the same comment, seriously consider listening to that feedback, whether you like it or not.
When your book is being published, you can go back to beta readers to see if they would give you a review or would help you get the word out, but that is another post.
Beta readers are an invaluable resource. Ask for help, give them a framework, and appreciate their hard work.
Have you ever worked with beta readers? Comment below!
– Keep writing
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