How To Work With Beta Readers

In today's post, I will be talking about beta readers. (I wanted to give you guys a break from the outlining series, we will be back on track next week.) Beta readers are people who read the first draft of your book, who give you some insight and feedback on what needs change and what is good.

Who are your beta readers? This all depends on you. It depends on what you want from them. If you want more writing things, such as arcs and structure, then ask a writer to read your book. If you want to see how a reader will consume your story, pick a non-writing friend. I personally like to choose a reader, and I will ask for writers to read my story after my second or third draft. 

Pick 1-2 readers. You will have various readers for each draft/stage for of your story. Only pick 1 or 2 for each round so that you have enough to work with, but not too many.

Prepare. Other than printing or sending the document, there are many things to be done. When you are looking for readers you will want to write a synopsis and email as many people as you can, to see if they will be interested. When you have your reader, there are other steps you need to take. 

Craft your questions. Write 5-15 questions specific to your book for the reader to answer. For example, "What did you think of John's character arc? Did his actions match up with his personality?" You may also ask, "Was everything clear? Where you confused at any moment in the book?" One question that really helps: "Were there any scenes you thought where too long or too short?" The possibilities for questions are endless, but the key is to pick a few, so that neither you or your reader will be bored. 

Give your reader 3-5 weeks to read and give feedback to your book. During this time, step away from your draft and write something else. Consider starting a short story, novella, or novelette. 

Once your reader has given you your feedback you need to take their answers into consideration as you are writing/revising your next draft. Remember to be careful with what you decide to use, not everything they tell you needs to go into your story.

Here's the truth, I'm whispering it in your ear: Every reader has different taste, and you don't need to satisfy every one. Follow your own reading taste, and that's how you develop your STYLE. 

What's your process with beta readers? Share it in the comments!

(P.S. If you are writing a non-fiction book, this process still works for you! But, you should add different questions. They should still be specific to your book. Ask the reader if they liked the way it was all explained, if the subject was explained clearly. You can also ask if they thought there was anything on the subject that was not in the book, or if they were curious about something that wasn't included.)

Comments

  1. “Write 5-15 questions specific to your book for the reader to answer.” I think this advice should be taken seriously for a writer who is planning to send his novel to beta readers. The questions will act like a guideline for beta readers and will help them to be more focused and provide more useful feedbacks. If the questions are not designed properly, the writer will not benefit enough from the beta reading process. Proper questions also saves a lot of time on the part of the reader. The sample questions that you have provided are great examples. Thanks for sharing them.

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