Beta Readers – Why and How?

Having written a novel, I was desperate to have some feedback on it. The two people I shared it with were incredibly positive about it, but they were biased. They struggled to find any flaws, even I had managed to do that. The answer was to find a beta reader.


A beta reader will help you end up with a better book. To extract the most value from the exercise, the reader should have an interest in the genre in which you are writing. The will feedback to you on the strength of the story, believability and likeability of the characters, and what does and doesn’t work.


So where do you find a beta reader?


Social media is a fantastic resource of people. An easy start would be to put a request on Twitter with the hashtag #betareader.


There are also sites such as Scribofile where you can participate to earn points redeemable in kind, it’s very much a give and take process. I have been told Wattpad is another option for you to upload your book and gain feedback. The best bet for you might be the traditional method of writing groups or critique groups where you meet people to discuss each other’s work.


What do you want out of your beta reader?


It might mean different things to different people, so establishing what it is you are looking for from the offset is key to ensuring it is a beneficial process for you. Keep the relationship positive, and you could find yourself returning to them to review your next work. Don’t waste their time with a first draft that you haven’t bothered to edit yourself, the process needs to be enjoyable for them or frankly, they won’t bother.


The biggest lesson I have learned would be to provide the reader with a checklist of the questions you would like answered. Is it about the descriptive elements? Is it the characters personality? Or perhaps the intrigue of your villain? Be specific and you will get the most benefit from your beta reader.


Finally, don’t mistake your beta reader for an editor!


Have you got any tips on how to find great beta readers?


One thought on “Beta Readers – Why and How?

  1. Sara Butler Zalesky says:

    Asking someone out of the genre you write. For my first novel, I chose someone who gave a book that was somewhat similar to mine a lackluster review. I said “I want that girl to read my book – she’s honest.” Initially she didn’t want to read mine, given she had no clue about cycling but in the end, she loved it and I got some excellent feedback.


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