Updated: Apr 23, 2022
"Like a Mother is connected to her baby, you are connected to your writing. " -Positively Gabrielle
This means that you cannot effectively edit your writing for publishing (yes. that means you Jasmine.) The good news is that you can have people read your writing for FREE and give you feedback. But, there are some things you need to do first.
Number one: Do not choose your best friends: For everything else including advice, love, and pick me ups best friends can be awesome. However, when it comes to beta readers you need people who can be objective. This means avoiding people who will tell you what you want to hear or spare your feelings. Though your close friends may promise to be un-biased, the very fact that they have love for you means that they will hesitate to tell you the truth.
Number two: If you can avoid complete strangers: One of the scariest things about beta reading is that you are giving your blood, sweat, and tears over to someone. And even with precautions such as watermarks and the little c copyright signal, people can still take your work and claim it as their own. One way to avoid this is to vet the people first. However, vetting can take a little bit of time. So what I did was I looked for people I had met in real life who I associated with, but that weren't necessarily people I saw everyday.
Number three: Make a list of your target audience qualities: This is a very important thing. You want your beta readers to be people who are interested in your work. Therefore if you are giving your fantasy manuscript to someone who only reads romance novels ; or if you are giving your teenage thriller to your 75-year-old grandma, you might find that your questions and feedback will be skewed. If possibly try to find people who are interested in what you write. For me, this meant finding people who were unmarried and preferably not cohabiting or in a serious relationship.
Have multiple beta readers: You do not need to have 50 beta readers on your first round.... but... you also want to have
more than one. Beta reading is a time consuming process and a lot of people do not realize this until after they agree to begin the process. You want to have a big enough group to where if someone states that they do not have the time to complete the beta reading process after all, you can be okay and not have to rush around to look for someone to fill their place. For my first round of beta reading, I had eight quality beta readers who I trusted.
Number five: Provide an incentive: For my betas, I promised to give them each a signed copy of my book. I knew that they would be dedicating a lot of time and mental energy to complete their copy, so I wanted to give them a reward. Your incentive does not have to be a printed copy of your book. Instead, it can be a gift card to their favorite restaurant or beta reading for if they are writing a future book ( which would work, but none of my beta readers were writers).
Number Six: Keep in mind that every beta reader you enlist is one less potential buyer: This is why I was super careful not to enlist my friends and family members to buy my book. Beta reading involves your readers getting a free copy of your book. And rarely will the people who beta read your book go back to buy the book because they already have a free copy!
"Therefore, if you have 50 beta readers, that could be knocking out a substantial part of your audience. "
For genres with a small audience this can destroy book sales.
Number seven: If all else fails, look online. : Good places to look online includes Goodreads, writing communities, and in places where writers like to hide like instagram. I did not do this option because of number two, but if you have a good vetting process then this should not be too much of an issue. My favorite thing about this option is that you will get very unbiased reviews.
So that.. is how you can find beta readers. comment below: what has been your experience with finding beta readers?