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