B is for Beta-Readers

At some point in our writing lives comes a time when we need another set of eyes to look at our masterpiece. Your draft is done, your first revisions are done, time to look for a beta. Of course, there’s no such thing as the ideal beta reader, but you have to have an idea of what you are looking for.

Finding the right people is hard work. It takes time, patience, and trials. If you’ve set your eyes on a writer pal, there’s no guarantee that a writer would be a good critique partner, and the quality of reads you may get is a hit or miss.

Personally, I prefer having betas who are not writers (writer-writer pairing can easily turn into slapfest, especially if the writers are at the early stage of their writing careers, so you have to articulate in detail every point you need/want from their read.) Avid readers who are not writers have good eyes, so they will tell what worked and what not — it is subjective of course, everyone has their set of preferences, but if several betas point you at the same problem with the story, then you better take that into consideration.

These are some good resources on finding your beta readers:

What Should We Look for in a Beta Reader?
Ask Jami: How Do We Find Beta Readers?
Ask Jami: Where to Find Beta Readers

Beta Readers – What’s your experience?

Beta Reader Job Description

If you are an author in need of a beta-reader, you may want to try one of these places:

On Goodreads:
Beta/Proof Readers
Beta Reader Group
First Readers (Beta Readers)
The Circle: for readers/beta readers/critiques/reviews/free reads

On Facebook:
Beta Reader Writers Club

WordlLitCafe:
Beta Readers & Critique Groups

Of course, there are a lot more places where you can find your betas — writing/reading forums and discussion boards may well be on your list. Writing social networks such as Authonomy, Wattpad or Worthy of Publishing can also be of use.

What is your experience with beta-readers? Where do you look for betas?

Jeno Marz
JENO MARZ is a science fiction writer from Latvia, Northern Europe, with background in electronics engineering and computer science. She is the author of two serial novels, Falaha’s Journey: A Spacegirl’s Account in Three Movements and Falaha’s Journey into Pleasure. Marz is current at work on a new SF trilogy. All her fiction is aimed at an adult audience.

5 Comments

  1. I’ve had parts of my MS read by 3 people so far, two writers and one non-writer. I haven’t yet reached the stage of true beta-reading worthiness, since I have to finish editing the MS first. When the whole thing will be ready, I think I’ll look for non-writing readers too, maybe only one or two other writers. Mainly because I expect impressions and emotions from a beta reader, not storytelling nitpicking and style corrections. 😉

  2. Great points and reminders! I’m in the revision process of my WIP and will soon be delving into the land of betas. Thanks for the great post! rsmccoy.blogspot.com

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