The term “beta reader” is one that you hear all the time when it comes to writing books but nobody really clarifies what a beta reader is, and how you can find one. Beta readers can help authors proof-read their article, book or any other written material.
While you don’t have to use beta readers, they are a powerful tool to ensure your book is written in an understandable way without mistakes. In this article, we explain what beta readers are and how to find a beta reader.
What Is A Beta Reader?
A beta reader is a person who reads a book manuscript and then provides feedback on the manuscript to the author. It’s important to understand the difference between beta readers and editors. A beta reader is not a professional critic but they will be able to point out any errors, inconsistencies, plot holes or unclear paragraphs in your book.
Beta readers may be acquaintances, friends and strangers to the author but they should know the genre of the book well. In addition, betas should also regularly read books that are similar to the book you want feedback on. This experience of beta readers helps them to spot any overused elements in your plot of missing parts in your story.
How To Find Beta Readers?
Finding a beta reader is much easier than you might think. Authors often ask family and friends to read their book. But you can also post on writing forums or communities to find betas. Alternatively, you can even post in different social media groups related to your book’s genre. Here are our best ways for authors to find beta readers.
Your Personal Network
We all have family and friends who might be interested in reading our book. It’s a good idea to check among your personal network first, who would be interested in reading through your manuscript and providing feedback. Often people in our personal network are more willing to help with beta reading but this can also be a disadvantage.
Giving honest and open feedback is difficult because it appears as criticism. That’s why many family members and friends struggle with providing feedback to a writer. This is the reason why authors should also look for feedback outside of their personal circle, such as in writing groups, on social media and with your author mailing list.
If you are looking for beta readers, then you will need to take a look at places online where a lot of readers and writers come together. The advantage of asking other writers to read your manuscript is that they know exactly what to look for in a book. They also have a different perspective to your target audience.
Here are a few different forums and writing communities that are worth looking into if you need a beta reader.
- Nathan Bransford Forum: Nathan Bransford’s writing forum is a place where authors and betas can come together. It’s like a matchmaking site for beta readers and writers.
- Beta Readers and Critique Partners Facebook Group: Facebook groups are a great way to get to a large number of beta readers. As administrators watch this group, there is also limited spam.
- Absolute Write Water Cooler: While this large writer forum seems overwhelming, they have a great variety of boards for writing buddies, beta readers and mentors.
- 10 Minute Novelists Facebook Group: Just as the name suggests, this writer’s group is for everyone who doesn’t have a lot of time but big ambitions.
- Goodreads Beta Reader Group: Goodreads has a large range of topics that can help you with your writing process, including a few threads where you can ask for beta volunteers.
- Local writing groups: Try not to underestimate the power of local writing groups. Just try to google writer’s groups near you. They might also turn out to be a loyal source of beta readers for any future books.
Your Author Mailing List
Another way to find beta readers is by simply promoting your manuscript on your author website or through your mailing list. If you already have a loyal following, then you can offer some of your readers a free copy of your published book. You can even include an acknowledgement in your book.
What To Offer A Beta Reader?
As beta readers don’t usually get paid, you can offer your readers an acknowledgement with their name in the book. You can also give them a free copy of your finally published book when it’s ready. This is often a great way to invite more beta readers to read your book.
This being said, there are also beta readers, such as social media influencers, who beta read books for a living. These beta readers usually get paid by the author.
How Many Beta Readers Do I Need?
There is no minimum or maximum number of beta readers that you will need for manuscript feedback. However, it’s best to keep the number of beta readers between 3 and 5, so you can collate all the feedback and use it to improve your book.
If you have fewer than three beta readers, then it’s not enough feedback to reasonably judge your work. On the other hand, if you have too many beta readers, it is difficult to see through all the responses and decide what you should change in your manuscript.
When Should I Start Looking For Beta Readers?
The best time to look for a beta reader is when you finished the final self-edited manuscript draft. This means you should be sure that you looked through your book several times to remove any spelling or grammatical mistakes.
Do Beta Readers Get Paid?
No, most beta readers don’t get paid for their feedback. This being said, you can give them a free copy of your finished book.
You can find beta readers anywhere where writers and readers come together, including writing groups, online writer forums and social media writer groups.