Do you work with Beta Readers? If not, you are missing out on a great FREE resource that will strengthen your book! How do you find them? How can they help you? This one-hour video guides you through the process of obtaining and working with beta readers to improve your book.
NOTE: Beta Readers expect a finished product. It doesn’t need to be perfect, but don’t waste their time with a manuscript that isn’t edited or proofed.
What you will learn in this video
- What is a Beta Reader?
- How can Beta Readers help you?
- Where do you find Beta Readers?
- What questions do you ask Beta Readers to spark discussion and feedback?
- Troubleshooting problems with your Beta Readers.
- Building relationships with Beta Readers leads to reviews for Book Launches and builds your Street Team.
- How to thank Beta Readers.
Finding and Working With Beta Readers: Links and Resources Supplemental material
Where to Find Beta Readers
Resource pages with lots of links to writing communities and beta reading groups:
- The Top 11 Writing Communities
- 8 places to find Writing Groups
- Facebook Writing Groups
- Goodreads Critique Groups
- Scribophile (they offer discounts during NaNoWriMo)
- Trade beta reading with other authors.
- Your personal mailing list
- MailerLite is the program I prefer (free under 1,000)
Information you need to provide to Beta Readers
- Synopsis of book
- Genre of book
- Approximate word count or printed pages
- How you will be providing the manuscript for them to read
- Deadlines to finish the reading and provide feedback
- If you will be offering some sort of gift to complete the project:
- Gifts are NOT for Reviews!
- Gifts do motivate readers. I reminded my Never Date a Siren about a week before the deadline and had a big boost in readers getting it done! LOL
Managing your Beta Readers
- Make an email newsletter for each book or project
- Build a spreadsheet which includes the following:
- Address (including country) if you plan on mailing out books or other rewards for participating.
- Email address
- How did you find them? (Instagram? Facebook? Goodreads?)
- Did they complete the book?
- Are they a return Beta Reader?
- And a ranking of their beta feedback.
- Were they a specialized reader?
- Sensitivity reader (i.e., disability, minority, gender)
- Field expert (in a topic such as history, country, language).
I use Beta Books to provide my book to Beta Readers. Why?
- It is online only, so they sign in via an app. This controls their ability to access your manuscript for those worried about plagiarism or piracy. It is rare for Beta Readers to sign a contract to read your book, so this helps in the screening process to keep your book safe.
- The feedback is organized, and you can mark it “done” or “to do”, “keep” or “consider”. This helps to organize all the feedback you are getting.
- You can see the feedback by the reader and see how far the reader progressed in reading your project. If readers all abandon your book at a certain point, that tells you something!
- You can respond directly back to comments, and other readers don’t see those comments (unless you allow it).
- Paying for the app can be turned off when not in use.
See my review here about why I prefer Beta Books
- $14 per month. Pay for just the months you need.
- The free version allows one book, three readers.
- Readers read the book in a mobile-friendly website. No downloads.
- 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
Sample Questions – change to fit your book and genre to spark discussion
Questions for particular times –
For the first five chapters – “would you continue reading at this point? If not, why not?”
During the midpoint of the book – “how is the pacing of the plot at this time? To fast? To slow? Or just right? Was there a point you would have stopped reading? Where?”
At the end of the book – “did you find the end satisfying, or is there something you would like more of before the book ends?” “Did you find the book emotionally satisfying?” “What emotions did you feel about this book?”
About 1/3rd of the book: do you feel comfortable with what you know about the worldbuilding at this point? Is there anything you find confusing about the magic (you can insert “science” or whatever your genre is) that is slowing down your reading?
When certain things happen –
When you introduce certain characters: “What do you think of this character? What is your opinion at this point about X? How do you feel about X?”
At the end of a chapter that packs in a lot of information: “Do you believe you understand the situation/scene that happened in this chapter? Do you need more information?”
If you have a lot of exposition through dialogue or description, ask if the reader felt comfortable with that amount of information in chapter X. Did they need more or less?
Descriptions – after describing a place, find out if they have a good idea of what the castle/town looks like or do they need more?
Dialogue – after you have a section of meaningful dialogue you can ask questions like: “did this dialogue fit the character of X?” “what did this conversation tell you about the characters?” “did you know who was speaking, or was there some confusion?
Other questions –
If you have a character that is someone you think readers might not like – ask them! But keep it open-ended. “What do think at this point of the story about the character X? Is there more about this person you would like to know? What do you like/dislike about this person?”
General questions: “Who was your favorite character, and why? Least favorite character and why? What was your favorite scene, and why? What made you laugh (cry, become angry, excited, happy, etc.)? After reading this book, would you read the sequel?”
Genre questions: “What genre do you think this book fits best? Why?” And ask specific questions about your genre tropes.
This is one of several informational videos that I do for FREE – to help my fellow authors. Enjoy!
P.S. If you wish to thank me for this resource, I’d love for you to check out my books and reviews are always very appreciated
Previous Author Help videos in this series include:
- Steps to Success: Self-Publishing your Book: Want to self-publish but are confused by all the information out there? Don’t know where to start? This 43-minute slideshow with voice-over takes you through the A-B-C’s of publishing that first book. Or if you have already published, it goes over the legal and marketing steps that I consider the most essential.
- Promoting! Next Step Marketing Tools: Your book is ready to go! But do you know how to market it? How do you get the word out? Are you biting your nails about getting reviews? This 49-minute slideshow with voice-over starts you on the right path!
Music is On My Way by Kevin MacLeod