Isn’t it a great feeling to have finished editing that rough draft you’ve been working on since forever?
I held a personal ‘shimmy shimmy shake’ celebration party when I had finally finished editing my manuscript (just imagine a Hobbit-sized writer in her PJs, flailing her limbs about behind the computer screen; I treasure these little moments of victory). Honestly, it felt like a load off.
Now, while I was flailing about in joy and trying to convince people that me flapping my arms about really is considered ‘dancing’, that little, nagging, rational, party-pooping voice in the back of my head forced me to a halt.
Sure, you’re done with your manuscript, it whined, but you don’t honestly think the work ends here, right?
I loathe giving in to that rational little voice, but it had a point. While it was great to have finished editing my draft, the next step I had to undertake was harder than writing and editing my story.
I needed to find beta readers.
What’s Beta Readers, Precious, What Is It?
I’m not sure how this blog post took on a Lord of The Rings theme, but if you read that heading in Gollem’s voice, I just gave you a high five for being awesome.
If you’re familiar with my website, you’ll notice a link in the menu that leads to a page about my Beta Reading Service (shameless advertising, anyone?). Yes, I am a beta reader – I love books, I love reading and I offer authors a fresh perspective on their manuscripts, giving them my thoughts on their story so they’ll know what works and what doesn’t. This enables them to make adjustments to their manuscripts after receiving the feedback I provide for them.
Basically, finding beta readers is a necessary step for any writer to undertake if they’re serious about publishing their work and ensuring their story has an audience that’s interested in buying their books. This is also the reason why I can’t beta read my own work, because I’m blind to my own story.
Makes sense, right? So, where can we find beta readers?
“One Does Not Simply Find Beta Readers…Right?”
Wrong. A simple Google search will lead to countless of websites and writing forums with eager beta readers (both free and paid) offering their services to authors.
It really isn’t all that hard to find a beta reader, but it is important to find the right one.
During my search for beta readers, I learned to be critical and set up a short list of conditions I would like my beta readers to meet. Along the way, I’ve made some slight errors in picking out beta readers but I’ve learned from them. Hopefully these insights will help you on your way as you cross the vast expanse of the world wide web in search for your tribe of betas.
- Try to find beta readers who can prove that their services are not only legit, but have good reviews of other authors as well. While this seems obvious to look out for, it will really help you get a grasp of the service they’re offering. The only downside is that most of these beta readers might have a waiting list, but if you’re patient it’ll hopefully be worth the wait.
- Look at how beta readers communicate with you. Those that don’t even bother greeting you and are short and abrupt in answering any questions you may have show a lack of professionalism. If they don’t even have the courtesy to say ‘hi’ or ‘thank you’, why would they be respectful to your work? (I’ll admit that this may be harsh, but those that don’t even find the time to write a polite reply probably won’t spend much time in reading your manuscript- just saying).
- Find beta readers who can tell you about their work method and what you can expect from their services. This shows that they’ve been around for some time, so they’re experienced in beta reading.
- Swapping manuscripts is another great way to find beta readers – kind of a ‘you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours’ kind of deal. Things to look out for with swapping is making sure that your swap partner gives the feedback you’re looking for and isn’t just skimming through your work only so you’ll beta read theirs.
In addition to this list there’s of course some differences between free beta readers and paid beta readers, but I’ll dedicate a separate blog post for that. The most important thing for an author to do when searching for a beta reader is to be honest and open in their communication.
Ask questions if you’re not sure about something, no matter how many questions that may be. A beta reader who gets annoyed by these questions or can’t answer them to satisfaction, is probably one you don’t want to spend your time on, let alone hand over your manuscript to.
Make sure you know what you would like beta readers to pay attention to, so you’re ensured that you get the feedback that’s important to you.
And, as always, don’t be disheartened if you haven’t found the proper beta readers yet. Persevere, remain courteous and respectful to the beta readers you approach, be patient and keep an eye out on writer forums or social media. Before long, you’ll find your beta reading tribe to rule them all! – Well, if you’re an ancient force of evil named Sauron, that is. Otherwise, make sure to cherish the beta readers you have, guys!
What do you look for in a beta reader to initiate them into your tribe?