Practical tips on working with Beta Readers

Here I’ll share the process on the author side of working with Beta Readers.

Right now beta readers are reviewing my beta draft of my novella, Never Date a Siren. Here I’ll share the process on the author side of working with Beta Readers.

What are Beta Readers?

Beta readers are merely readers who volunteer to read your story in its draft form and provide feedback. If you are fortunate, these beta readers will leave you your first reviews.

It’s best if they are not friends and family. because they may hesitate to voice their feedback, worried you might be offended by their criticism.

There are also specialized Beta Readers:

Sensitivity readers – will review your book and see if it there are problems with minority representation. This is important with Never Date a Siren as the main fae character is black.

Sensitivity readers can also give you feedback on LGBTQ characters and their representation.

Language or Cultural experts: If writing about a country, you aren’t familiar with, having someone local on the ground really helps.

Wicked Wolves had several Irish references and I lucked out with two Irish beta readers. It also had a character from Puerto Rico and I wanted the Spanish checked with someone from that country.

Never Date a Siren is on an international stage and many things need to be confirmed, especially the German phrases.

When you feel unsure about your level of knowledge, find a beta reader to help you.

Where do you find them?

I’ve been lucky enough to put out a call through my social media and located some very good ones. However, if you are starting from scratch there are places you can go and put out a request.

Just be aware you want readers who are familiar with your genre and like reading it.

When do you let Beta Readers start reading your work?

I’m sure you have your own process, but this is my sequence of writing and drafting:

1.) Write 1st draft (zero draft)
2.) Revise story (2nd and 3rd drafts)
3.) Throughout this process use Grammarly Pro to catch mechanical errors (typos, grammar, etc.) 4th draft
4.) Share manuscript (MS) with Alpha reader (husband, writer’s critique group).
5.) Incorporate feedback, make edits I agree with, add more scenes, for this 6th draft.
6.) Check it with Grammarly Pro before posting to beta readers via Beta Books.
7.) Collect feedback, revise and change what I feel is needed. 7th draft.
8.) Grammarly Pro check again. 8th draft.
9.) Submit MS for professional edit to editor. 9th draft.
10.) Complete last changes on MS. Let husband re-read. 10th draft.
11.) Final Grammarly Pro check. 11th draft.
12.) Self-publish

How do you share your story with Beta Readers?

In the past, I’ve tried sharing my draft through a mobi file that Beta Readers could read via their Kindle. However, it caused all sorts of confusion, which resulted in readers losing interest in helping me!

This time around I’m going with Beta Books, an online software app for sharing, and I’m loving it!

  • Free version allows 1 book, 3 readers.
  • $14 per month. Pay for just the months you need – put your account on hold when you don’t need it, and reactivate it later. 
  • Designed specifically for beta readers  
  • Readers read the book on a mobile-friendly website
  • No downloads needed by the reader, easy and secure
  • Can gather feedback inline, by chapter, or by questionnaire
  • Tracks what each reader has read
  • Nice management tools for seeing who commented what and where
  • You can promote your book to their own Beta Readers via their website.

To receive my in-depth review, along with screenshots of Beta Books , be sure to sign up to the Author Network newsletter. I will be issuing more information this week for my followers about this app.

What I like so far about Beta Books:

The book is shared online only. No one downloads it to their Kindle but must read it by logging into the website. This prevents confusion and also keeps your documents secure (it isn’t floating around with the internet unsupervised);

It allows you to turn off the account when not needed so you don’t incur additional charges on months when beta readers are not active. This was the only app I looked at that stated up front they did this.

You can list questions at the end of chapters to spark discussion. Often beta readers don’t know what to say or how to respond so this option has allowed me to encourage more feedback this go-around.

The notes from beta readers is easily organized and can be marked as read, to do, consider, etc.. making it easy to keep track of people’s suggestions.

Best of all? I know EXACTLY how much beta readers have read. This means I can award my gifts to people who actually helped me out by reading the book and commenting.

Beta Books was one of several apps I tested. Here are some others I reviewed, but decided not to use.

Hey Beta

  • $7 per month/$70 per year
  • Readers read the book in the app or on the website.
  • No downloads needed by the reader, easy and secure
  • Allows readers to add comments directly in the book
  • Tracks what each reader has read
  • does not provide access to a beta reader group via their own website

BetaReader.io

  • Free version allows 1 book, 3 readers.
  • $10 per month subscription. 
  • Readers read the book in the app or on the website.
  • No downloads needed by the reader, easy and secure
  • Allows readers to add comments directly in the book
  • Tracks what each reader has read
  • Feedback data only available for 30/90 days

Story Origin

  • Free for now
  • Not designed for beta readers, focused more on reviewers and free giveaways
  • Readers download the pdf or mobi file
  • Limited tracking, only available for reviews

Book Connect

  • $37 per month,billed annually. 
  • Designed for reviewers and book distribution, not beta readers
  • Downloads files to the reader, provides some instructions for how to view them.
  • No tracking of reader progress.
  • No comments

Book Funnel

  • $20 per month,billed annually. 
  • Designed for reviewers and book distribution, not beta readers
  • Downloads files to the reader, provides some instructions for how to view them.
  • No tracking of reader progress.
  • No comments

Do you use Beta Readers? Tell me about your experiences below!

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