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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