Finding Beta Readers
Once you’re done writing your masterpiece, rereading it, editing it, reading it again, having it professionally edited, making corrections, reading it again, having it proofread, and reading it through once more, do you send it to beta readers? If so, where do you find them? If so, what do you ask them to do? Expect them to do? Pray that they’ll do?
I’ve used beta readers for a number of books now. At first, I found them on Facebook. There are plenty of pages and groups of beta readers there. You simply join the group (make sure it’s a currently active group before you do!) and then post your request for beta readers giving your genre and how long the book is. The problem with finding readers this way is that you can’t really be sure that they won’t turn around and pirate your book. ☹ (On the other hand, NetGalley, one of the best places to send your book out for review is also the place where a lot of pirates lurk.)
So, where else can one find beta readers?
Well, one place I’m certain you’ve all heard, where you should not find beta readers is among your family and close friends. Truly, unless they are regular readers of your genre and can be trusted to be absolutely honest, do not have people close to you read your book.
If that’s the case – you can’t always trust people you find on Facebook not to pirate your book, you certainly can’t trust friends and family to be honest with you – then where do you find beta readers?
The one place where I have consistently found good beta readers is from my newsletter. Now, that doesn’t mean that they’ve all been terrific beta readers, believe me, they haven’t! Too frequently they’ll say that they’ll give me feedback and then the only feedback they give was that they loved the book.
Well, that’s wonderful, but it’s not helpful. I’m looking for constructive criticism. What is it that you loved about the book? What was it that you didn’t love? Why?
While it strokes my ego in a most wonderful way to hear positive reviews, it doesn’t help me improve as a writer; it doesn’t help me make that book better, which is the whole point of having beta readers.
So when you go to your mailing list be sure that your readers know that you are looking for constructive criticism. Make sure that they know that you are looking for people who can tell you what it was about the book that worked—and more importantly, didn’t work.
I have a questionnaire that I send out to my readers. They don’t fill in everything—it is 15 questions long!—but so long as they answer a good number of those questions, I’m happy.
Now, what do you do if you’ve just written your first book and you don’t yet have a newsletter mailing list? I’d go to your writer friends. Find a friend who writes in the same or a very similar genre as you and ask if they would send out a call for beta readers from their list. Just because readers subscribe to one author’s newsletter, doesn’t mean that they don’t read the books of other authors. Of course, they do! A good friend and sharing author wouldn’t have a problem sharing their readers with you.
There are, of course, sites like StoryOrigin and BookSprout where you can send out a call for beta readers and reviews and that’s also a great place to start. Both are currently free sites and you can upload your book there or arrange to send it out to anyone who might be interested in reading. On StoryOrigin there are also promotions you can join to send out word about your new book.
The internet is filled with great resources; use them carefully. But don’t fret about where to find beta readers because there are plenty of people out there more than willing to give you their honest opinion on your writing.
If you ever need help with your writing, please don’t hesitate to contact me. If you have a question you’d like answered on my podcast, The Writers’ Block Party Podcast, you can ask them on the podcast website. If you need help with your writing, please contact me and ask about book coaching. I’m always here for you!