3 Essential Editing Tips: Beta Readers (Pt 3) by @BethBarany
Turn to early readers or beta readers to let you know if they think the book is ready to be published. This post shares how to find and work with them.
Once you’ve gotten feedback from your critique partners or editors and implemented their suggestions to the best of your ability, then what?
At this point, I turn to early readers or beta readers to let me know if they think the book is ready to be published.
I think it is, but I’m often not 100% sure. I’ve looked at the manuscript so much, I have no clarity, no objectivity.
So over the last few years I’ve acquired a list of 40+ people who I can ask to review my manuscript at this pre-publication stage.
Why do they read? These early readers love to be a part of the writer’s process and a part of an exclusive group that gets to read your work before everyone else. Beta readers also like developing a relationship with the writer and supporting the writer. Lastly, many are writers themselves and are looking to improve their skills by reading lots of other people’s material.
We writers win because we get a fresh pair of eyes on our work. We also gather fans and people who will often post reviews when the book is published.
How to Get Beta Readers
People ask me how to get beta readers. If you’re just starting out, you may not know who your readers are nor where they congregate.
When I was self-publishing my first novel, Henrietta The Dragon Slayer (Amazon.com Kindle link), I didn’t have any beta readers. So I asked on Twitter and to friends of mine who I knew liked fantasy to be early readers for my book. I gathered at least three or four people this way.
On Twitter, I posted this for my next romance:
Want to be an early reader for a new sweet/sensual #paranormalromance? Just DM me or eml me here: bethbaranyATgmail com
Also, I request via a blog post from time to time. It’s been updated to reflect our current projects.
You’re welcome to sign up and adapt this type of request to your own needs.
Note on tech: I used Google Forms to create the form I embedded into this post. (I love Google Forms!)
What To Ask Beta Readers
Once I have people interested in helping me in this way, I send them a request about what kind of feedback I’d like and by when.
My letter looks like this (from my fourth romance novel published, A Labyrinth of Love and Roses):
Thank you so much for agreeing to give me your feedback! I so appreciate your support!
Attached is my sweet paranormal romance novella in draft format, GREEN MAN (Working Title), in Word format, as requested. Let me know if that format works for you.
[I find out ahead of time which format they’d like.]
It’s just over 23,000 words so if you could get it back to me next week by Sunday, August 24, that would be great.
Here’s what I would like you to answer: (Short answers are fine. 🙂 )
1. At what point does the motivation or the actions of the characters seem unrealistic?
2. Where does the story get boring?
3. What was missing? What did you want more of?
4. What would make this a five-star story for you?
5. Did you feel attached to the characters?
6. [Optional] Any line edits, like typos and grammar, would be great!
Thank you for your honesty. I would rather learn that my story doesn’t work now than learn that it sucks from Amazon reviewers. And I don’t take constructive criticism personally. 🙂
Thanks again! And have a great week!
All my best,
Things to keep in mind:
- Do give people a reasonable deadline.
- Do remind them.
- Do understand if they can’t follow through.
- Be gracious.
- Use what feedback you’re given and integrate it in a way that’s right for you.
That’s the process both Ezra (my husband, a thriller writer) and I use to gather and work with our beta readers.
Working with beta readers is a win-win for us all. [Click to Tweet about this (you can edit before sending).]
What is your next step, either with editing or getting beta readers?
Comment and let me know. I’m always interested in hearing from you!
All my best,
ABOUT BETH BARANY
Award-winning novelist and creativity coach for writers, Beth Barany has been making up fantasy and adventure stories all her life. She writes magical tales of romance, mystery, and adventure to empower women and girls to be the heroes of their own lives and empowers authors to write, publish, and market their fiction.