“Why Do Writers Need Beta Readers?” by Joan Y. Edwards
What is a beta reader?
A beta reader reads your book before it’s published. They aren’t editors or proofreaders, but they can do this, if you ask. Some Beta Readers are free; others charge for their services.
A beta reader reads the entire manuscript and give you invaluable feedback as a reader, not as a writer. A beta reader gives his opinion about plot, characterisation, believability, and other essential elements of a good story.
How many beta readers do you need for one book?
I suggest that you use one to three BETA readers for your manuscript.
What are the qualities of a good beta reader?
A good beta reader:
- Has read 50-100 books in your genre.
- Knows good grammar and spelling.
- Meets deadlines.
- Writes good sentences so you understand what they’re saying, what they mean
- Writes notes in the manuscript about his thoughts, questions, and concerns as he reads.
- Answers your questions about intriguing beginning and satisfying endings, character arcs, plot, inner and outer conflicts, pacing, believability, surprise elements, dialogue suitable for characters, situation, setting, and other essential elements of a best-selling book.
Where can you find beta Readers?
- Ask someone in your critique group.
- Request a Beta Reader on your Facebook page, blog, Twitter, or Tumbler page.
- Join and post a thread asking for a Beta Reader in the forums for GoodReads, Absolute-Write Forum, My Writers Circle, or Query Tracker Forum, or other writing groups online.
What information does a beta reader need?
Write questions for your beta reader and give them to him before he begins reading your manuscript. This helps him focus on the information you need from his beneficial read.
- Do you know what main character wants?
- What kept the main character from getting what he wanted?
- What was he willing to do to get it?
- Does he get what he wants? How?
- What are the mistakes that the main character makes?
- What are his flaws? (He’s gotta have flaws.)
- What is the lowest point in the story where the main character’s about to give up?
- Did the main character change? How?
- What does the main character learn about life from his experiences in this story?
- Do you know what each main character wants?
- Does each main character a distinct voice of his own?
- Can you tell when a different character is talking?
- What do you want to know that the writer isn’t telling you?
- Does it make sense? If not, note in the manuscript which parts that don’t make sense.
- Does the main character face his conflict or run away?
- Does the main character save himself by human means or is he saved with unbelievable circumstances that seems like magic?
- Did you mark where writer needs to show, don’t tell.
- What are three main errors main punctuation and grammar errors for the author to correct?
- Point out any pet words that the author uses over and over again? A thesaurus might have other words to use in place of them.
- What are three Blue Ribbon passages? Blue Ribbon passages are ones you consider to be the author’s best writing.
- Write the questions down within the text that come to mind as you read the story .
- After reading the story, can you write a short (25-100 word) summary? Do so. If not, tell the parts you can and explain the parts of the story that are missing.
The questions for your story may differ but these questions will help you brainstorm the best questions for your manuscript. GoodReads members supplied many great questions for beta readers in Questions to Assist Beta Readers. Dr. Bob Rich also provides other good questions in his post: What Does a Beta Reader Do?
Belinda Pollard. “How to Find a Beta Reader:” http://www.smallbluedog.com/how-to-find-a-beta-reader.html
Belinda Pollard. “What makes a good beta reader?”http://www.smallbluedog.com/what-makes-a-good-beta-reader.html
Bob Rich. PhD. “What Does a Beta Reader Do?”
Chuck Sambuchiano. “Seek Quality in Your Beta Readers, Not Quantity:”
Jae. “15 ways to find a beta reader or critique partner:”
K. M. Weiland. “A Quick Guide to Beta Reader Etiquette:” http://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/beta-reader-etiquette/
Michael La Ronn. “How to Find Beta Readers:” http://www.selfpublishingadvice.org/writing-how-to-find-beta-readers/
Stephanie Burkhart “Using a BETA Reader:” http://4rvreading-writingnewsletter.blogspot.com/2015/09/using-beta-reader.html
Thank you for reading my blog post about beta readers. To leave a comment or question, click here.
Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards
Copyright © 2015 Joan Y. Edwards
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