Are beta readers important? What are they exactly? I understand them to be your test panel prior to your book launch. They will give you a general reaction to your book and can help fix any problems you may have missed.
If you've been looking for beta readers, I recommend sites www.critiquematch.com, www.cpmatchmaking.wordpress.com, and the latest www.betareader.io. With Critique Match and Betareader.io, upload your manuscript, whether its chapters or the full document. Using CP Matchmaking, you‘re matched with a fellow writer and you both determine the best way to exchange pages. Back out graciously if it doesn‘t work out, and remember to sift through any feedback exchanged should you choose to work together. It's your story at the end of the day. Also, review the tutorials and ask questions in the help desks if you have any other concerns.
What's next after you find your beta readers? What's been working for me, is offering to be a beta reader. I don't offer in the hopes of "what can you do for me?" If a story sparks my interest and I have the time, I don't mind helping a fellow author, especially in my genre. I know I can't read everyone's work, but I aim to sharpen my skills in plot development, character arcs, narratives, etc. Doing this, I have found authors are more open to reading my work since I took the time to read theirs. Because I love reading and writing, this has been an asset to my works in progress.
Don't spread yourself too thin with this practice. You have your own work to do. Don't be afraid to say "no I can't this time, but thanks so much for thinking of me." For those who I accept, what then? I let them know what my strong points are: plot, head-hopping, pacing, dialogue, etc. I'm not editing for them or looking for grammar, but I help with the overall concept of the story. There are more involved guidelines with this, but this works for me when beta reading.
1) I read the book as if I would for fun but with a keener eye. I take notes as I go so I won't forget to mention it to the author.
2) I look at pacing. Are they info-dumping in the beginning? How's the hook? Does it pull me to the inciting incident?
3) Is there enough conflict/tension in the middle of the book? Does it drag? Are the arcs present in both main characters if applicable?
4) Is the setting solid? Are the five senses engaged during narratives? Can I smell, taste, touch, etc?
5) Does the dialogue flow? I love writing dialogue so this is my favorite part!
6) Is the climax and ending satisfying? Could they have done it differently? If not, I leave this alone.
I'll answer any requests the author has made that I'm asked to look for specifically. More than anything, I'm respectful in my notes. I let them know my comments are just suggestions and the final decision is up to them. I believe in being honest but I'm never harsh. As a fellow author, I know how it feels to put my work in the hands of someone else. So I praise them first, insert my suggestions in the middle, and then praise them again. If I like the book, I will tell them that. There's no point in me lying about it.
So what if the roles were reversed? What feedback should you ask for when working with beta readers? I know there are those with checklists and beat sheets, but I find this works best for me. I ask for constructive feedback but give examples in terms of what I’m looking for.
1) What’s your overall reaction to the book?
2) Are the characters relatable?
3) Does the dialogue flow?
4) Is the pacing too fast? Too slow? Or just right?
5) Is the climax satisfying?
6) Are the settings solid? Do the narratives/descriptions need work?
These are only examples, but I give them the liberty to point out anything else that confuses them. By doing all of this, I get stronger in my writing skills. I'm able to apply it to my work, and I pay that much more attention in my own stories. I hope you find these tips helpful, but remember to never give up on your writing. We all start somewhere, so be patient with yourself.
Daria has lived in Texas the majority of her life. Surprisingly, she never liked reading as a kid. In fact, she almost hated it. However, as she grew up that all changed. Though she received her degree in healthcare management, Daria kept her writing as a hobby. It was meant to be private and her own way of expressing herself, since she was considered shy as a child. It never crossed her mind to publish until she was in college. She decided to take a chance and published. It worked! Aside from writing, she enjoys Pilates, Turner Classic Movies, piano playing, and chocolate.
Books by Daria White
Click on images for details
Follow and get in touch with
Did you enjoy reading this article?
Let us know in the comments below and share with friends.
Join The Write Space Forum to start your own conversation.
You can also join my Facebook group, The Write Community, and chat over there.