Beta Reader Basics: WHAT are they and WHERE are they?

A beta reader is someone who reads your book--your unfinished book--while it's still in revisions or going through rounds of edits. Their job (although they're not paid in money, but instead given the amazing gift of reading your novel, yay!) is to point out plot holes, irregularities and things that just seem weird and stupid.

You will come to see just how much of your words don't make sense to other people even though thy make perfect sense to you.

That is why beta readers are the best, and why you need them.

There is a right way to contact these mystical creatures called beta readers, though. You can't just go out of the house and yell at the top of your lungs and hope someone comes running toward you.

You have to:

1. Make your novel seem appealing

Write a short, gripping synopsis and describe your book in a way that makes your beta readers want to read it. Think of it as your first practise round of pitching.

2. Make yourself seem like a genuinely nice person and someone worth their time and effort

If you suck and treat people badly when they try to help you, people will remember, and they'll be warning others not to buy your book one day. Treat everyone like best friends and you'll have a great team of supporters for your book already before publication!

3. Decide exactly what you need feedback on

Is your dialogue choppy? Are your characters flat? Make a list of your flaws as a writer and ask your beta readers to pay attention to these things to pinpoint exactly where you need to fix things.

4. Come up with great, specific beta reader questions. 

(I've got a list coming for you on Friday!)

5. Follow up and thank everybody for their help

You need to be able to take the criticism and basically be willing to shred this novel to pieces just to build it back up together. If you do nothing with the feedback you get from your beta readers, then what exactly is the point?

Now the question is: where can you find these mystical creatures?

1. Social media

Social media is truly a lifesaver for writers. It's perfect because you don't need to go out and meet people in real life, and it's also much easier to meet people, period.

If you're at a point where finding beta readers would be the next step in your writing journey, just type in #amwriting, #betareaders or #writingabook and you'll immediately be able to get in touch with thousands of writers just like you. And then you just ask a bunch of them to read your book and give you feedback!

2. The Nanowrimo forums

Every year the Nanowrimo forum buzzes with fellow novel-writers who look for beta readers. Join their conversation, just have fun and get to know people. And oh, right, post your novel's description and ask people to beta read for you.

I just always get so lost in those forums that I never end up doing what I actually go there for. Just a warning :D

3. Writing groups and websites

Check out these ones to see if they're for you:

Absolute Write

Critique Circle

Goodreads' Beta Reader Group

Agent Query Connect

My Writers Circle

Writer’s Carnival

The Writer’s Workshop

Beta Readers and Critiques (Facebook Group)

I hope this helps with the next step in your book-writing journey!

Get in contact with me on instagram to make blog post suggestions or if you have any further questions and follow my adventures all around my storyworld. Happy writing!

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