Why Not Become a Beta Reader?

Woman Reading in Garden, 1912, unidentified photographer

Ever been reading a novel & wished the author had asked for your input prior to publication? In the world of indie publishing, many authors seek critiques from readers. In my own experience, after having my as-yet-unpublished novel, Compromise With Sin, professionally edited, I submitted it to three beta readers seeking their feedback on a variety of issues, such as:

  • “Note any place where you’d stop reading to go floss your teeth.” Happily no one found places where the story stalled to that extent.
  • “Note any inconsistencies or contradictions.” Several things were mentioned. One reader found that dates on a tombstone didn’t jibe with the text.
  • “Are there instances in which you want to see more or less of Louise’s emotional response?” I got a great deal of help here.
  • “I welcome any other observations.” I discovered that sometimes what I thought I was communicating wasn’t what the reader was getting.

Become a Beta Reader

Whatever your taste in reading–thrillers, romance, mainstream, etc.–there are plenty of opportunities to become a beta reader. Here’s my advice:

  • Shop carefully & find a book you’ll enjoy before signing up to read.
  • Don’t like books loaded with F-bombs? Inquire as to levels of profanity, sex or violence if these are issues for you.
  • Ask to see the first chapter before you commit. You can always say, “Thank you for the opportunity, but this project just isn’t right for me.”
  • The author should provide you with a list of things he or she wants you to provide feedback on.
  • Decide on the format you’d like. Email attachment? eBook? Hard copy?
  • You should get a polished manuscript, one that’s been edited & proofread & nearly ready for publication, not an early draft. If you come across an occasional misspelling or typo, note it. The author will be grateful.
  • At the very least, you should be listed in the book’s Acknowledgments. You might get a signed print copy as well.

Find Authors Seeking Beta Readers

I recommend joining the Goodreads Beta Reader Group where you’ll find posts by authors who need your help. Typically an author’s post will state the genre & provide a blurb, & if you’re interested you can make contact.

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