“You can never read your own book with the innocent anticipation that comes with that first delicious page of a new book.”
A “beta reader” is a person who will read your story to see if it is a fit for the market, and they will also provide valuable feedback to fix problem areas in your manuscript.
How to choose a Beta Reader:
- Find a person who reads your genre…a lot. It doesn’t hurt if they are writers, but it is not a requirement.
- Find a person who is opinionated, but also knows how to express their thoughts without killing your dream.
- Find a person who is close, but not too close…we want them to speak their minds.
- Find a person who understands that this is still a book in process.
- Fina a person who might be able to offer insight into setting, ways of life, or technical terminology.
Guidance for your Beta Reader:
- Provide a Clear Deadline
- I usually contact my beta readers a month before I send them my manuscript. I don’t want to burden them if they don’t have time. I usually ask that their critique be returned withing a month. I also send a reminder a week before the deadline.
- How does the Beta Reader want your manuscript?
- Paper Copy
- Electronic Copy (Microsoft Word, Google Doc)
- Note: I like to mail some fun office supplies with my manuscript, gel pens, highlighters, sticky notes, etc.
- How will the critique be returned? (Provide Reminders)
- About a week before the deadline I send out a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) if I sent a paper copy of my manuscript.
- A good gentle reminder is to send a thank-you card with maybe a small gift card or thoughtful message a week before the deadline.
- What your Beta Reader doesn’t need to do:
- Line Edits (grammar, sentence structure, spelling, etc. unless something is obvious…this will take place once every piece of the manuscript it in place)
- Things for your Beta Reader to address:
- How is the Title of the book?
- Is the main character likeable?
- What are your thoughts on the other characters? Who stuck out and why? Is there anyone that needs work?
- Are there places where the story drags? Are there parts of the story where you forgot you were supposed to be editing because you were so caught up?
- Where did you laugh, cry, feel anger…etc?
- Where did it sound more like a journal entry rather than a story?
- What things do you remember from the story? Was there a favorite part? A least favorite part?
- How did you feel about the ending? Did you feel like everything was resolved?
- Did you have questions about certain things? Or maybe there were things that didn’t make sense.
- How did you feel about the book’s length?
- Did the story keep you guessing or was it predictable? Please use examples.
- Any other thoughts or suggestions?