Writing Tip: Find Beta Readers

Nearly a year ago, I wrote a post about finding a critique group, and how getting feedback from others can help you become a better writer. Today I'm expanding on that idea. Critique groups are wonderful; I love the two I belong to! At the same time, sometimes you just want to get TONS of opinions on your writing. That's where beta readers can come in!

Let's say you've just written a draft of a novel, and you want feedback from 20 people on it, but your critique group is only 5 people. Where will you find the other 15? Well, what I did when revising One Final Vinyl, was I sought out beta readers.

If you haven't heard the term before, beta readers are similar to beta testers in any other field; just like beta testers examine a product before its release, beta readers read your draft before it goes through copyediting, before it goes off to a publisher, before it's in its final form. They give you feedback, tell you what's working and what isn't.

Image from https://www.flickr.com/photos/byrawpixel/32881020421
Social media is a great place to search for beta readers. You can browse through the #amwriting hashtag and see what other writers are currently working on. Talk to some other people, and see if anyone's interested in trading stories. Then you guys can read each other's stories and give each other feedback. You can also just post a tweet about your search for beta readers. Often, lots of people are interested in getting to read a free book, even if it's not finalized yet!

Before sending your story to beta readers, I recommend letting them know what you're looking for in feedback. I think most readers will assume this, but it's good to be up front about not wanting feedback on grammar, punctuation, typos, etc. This is a stage for global editing, for finding major plot holes or parts of the story that were unclear. If there are any parts in particular you're concerned about, ask your readers about those as well. Giving your readers a list of questions to consider as they read can be really helpful for getting the kind of feedback you want.

Have you used beta readers? How has your experience been?

Happy writing!


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