Written by A Guest Author

Tips to Consider When Searching for Beta Readers

By Aliya Hall

Beta readers are an integral part of the editing process. Their critiques help writers determine what sections work and what sections need more attention, but not every beta reader can provide the exact feedback you’re looking for.

When you’re putting together a beta reading team, you’re trying to find readers that offer the most useful insight into your story. Looking for readers with those qualities is important, but it can be a challenge to know where to find them and what factors merit valuable commentary.

Seek the right readers for you

First off, it’s important to receive input from beta readers that are knowledgeable about the genre you’re writing and are avid readers of books that have the same comparative structure and tropes. Those readers can spot that you’re setting up the correct plot points in the right place to make the story flow and hit all its intended marks. They are also most likely to represent what the reviews of your intended readers will look like.

Although involving beta readers that are familiar with the genre you’re writing will be the most beneficial to your manuscript, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t also get insight from readers outside of your genre as well. If you have a romance arc in your book, getting feedback from a beta reader that specializes in romance will help you follow the correct beats to make that plot line feel more authentic. Betas who offer advice from outside your intended genre can also see different holes that could be present in your draft, that other readers may miss.

Know what you’re looking for

Outside of diverse perspectives, another factor to consider when looking for beta readers is the type of feedback you want to receive. Do you want a surface level overview of what could be improved or expanded upon? Or do you want beta readers to deep dive into how a character’s arc progresses throughout the story?

Knowing what kind of critique you’d like to receive can better help you structure how betas submit their comments. Some authors prefer to give their betas a questionnaire that tackles a breakdown of each chapter, some prefer comments and questions on the draft itself, and others would rather have it structured like a review pointing out the good and the bad. However you prefer to receive your feedback, sharing that information upfront with betas will help them provide the best response to your need.

Recruit a variety of beta talents

Every beta reader will bring something different to the table, and the variety of comments will be instrumental when going through beta responses. Having each beta bring a different specialty to the table will ensure that you’ll have reviews addressing multiple elements of your draft.

It can be hard for one reader to touch on every aspect of the story, so finding beta readers with strengths in different areas will give you a well-rounded evaluation. For example, some readers may specialize in dialogue or description, while others are more plot, setting or character focused. These qualities all have their place, and it’ll be useful to you as an author to have input reacting to different parts of your manuscript.

How to find beta readers

There are multiple avenues an author can take to find beta readers. You can put out a call for betas on your social media channels to enlist potential readers — many authors will have a form available for perspective betas to fill out to determine if they’ll be the right fit for you. You can also specifically ask other writers or readers you trust to dedicate their time to beta as well, or offer a beta exchange.

Even though there are a lot of free options for beta readers, if you’re willing to spend a little bit of money you can also hire professional beta readers for their services. The benefit of hiring a beta reader is they’re experienced in providing feedback and already know what to look for. If you’re looking for a particular perspective in a beta reader, this is also a good option because professional beta readers will make it clear what services they offer in terms of genre knowledge and quality of feedback.

It can be a challenge to have an objective view of your own work, which is why it’s crucial to have beta readers you trust to help you along the way.


Bio: Aliya Bree Hall is a freelance journalist and writer based in Portland, Ore. She is currently editing her first novel, an adult F|F science fantasy. When she’s not writing, she’s hosting Sapphic Stories Bookclub (and Other Queer Tales) or cohosting the podcast Shit We Wrote.

 

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