Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Beta readers anyone?

Posted by Susan B James on 3:00:00 AM with 3 comments
If you're looking to be one, I want to meet you.

You’ve honed your manuscript. Been through the revision process more than once. You’ve possibly been through a critique group. (I personally love feedback from my critique group.) Now it’s time to look for a beta reader or three. 
A Beta reader is a person who test drives your book. Unlike a critique group which gives feedback in small bites, a beta reader reads the whole thing.
The term beta is derived from the software industry where beta versions of a program are sent to users to test.
I am sure we’ve all been through beta versions of software. With the best will in the world the software industry has put out some real doozies in the first version. They didn’t put in bugs on purpose They thought they had a saleable finished product.

As writers, we too are capable of being blind to errors. Why?
We know our work too well.
We describe events or a world in a way that is clear to us, but not clear to an outside reader.
We’ve lived with the characters so long, some of what is clear to us about our characters did not make it onto the printed page.
They are plot holes we fail to catch.

A beta reader reads a finished manuscript and tells the author about the bugs so the author can improve its readability, and saleability. Ideally, a beta reader finds your glitches. I think an author needs at least three readers, because they may pick up on different things.

For Time and Forever, I had five, including one beta reader who gave me a line edit. That was above and beyond the call of duty. She improved my book immeasurably. 
Hey, maybe the manuscript doesn't have any bugs. I have not personally experienced this, but it can happen. An author I did not know who was a member of one of my Yahoo groups posted a YA novel for "last looks." I adored it. I was fully caught up in her world and characters. I ended up sending her a fan letter. Wouldn’t it be nice to get that from a reader before it’s sent to an editor?
What do you want from your beta reader? Here is a great link to beta leader questionnaire: http://beta-readers.deviantart.com/art/My-Beta-Readers-Questionnaire-152568362

Where to find your beta reader?
It goes without saying that we all want the crème de la crème of betas. I know it takes time and trials to find a good fit.
You want one who regularly reads in your genre.
It’s best if they are not related to you. I find my friends are perhaps kinder than they should be because they love me.
If you belong to a writing chapter, you can possible arrange a beta swap. Check their listserv.
Sometimes you get lucky. I met a beta reader in an airport waiting for a delayed flight. We swapped manuscripts and I just finished another revision based on her amazingly helpful feedback.
You can search the web – Key word beta reader.
Yahoo groups You could search Yahoo Groups or start a new topic within your group.
Goodreads: I found, among others, a YA group. https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/129339-aspiring-ya-novelists

And a general Beta group where you post your genre. https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/50920-beta-reader-group
Facebook. Search beta readers followed by your genre. I see some people looking to find beta readers. Perhaps a swap could be arranged.
Next I tried Twitter. Lots of hits with beta reader. Found this wonderful blog. https://thebetareaderblog.wordpress.com/

 I need a beta or two myself. 
Kate's Hero is a romantic comedy. Approximately 207 pages.
 One four leaf clover. Two stubborn People. A leprechaun with a mission. What could possibly go wrong?
Any takers?
If you are an author I'd be happy to swap. Leave a comment with a way to reach you.

Thanks you for stopping by.
This week's giveaway is one of the books I wish I'd written. This Heart of Mine by Susan Elizabeth Phillips.  It's a well thumbed paperback. (I have two.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Sue,

    I struggle finding beta readers. I'll swap. phoenix69@bellsouth.net Good post. Thank you.

  2. I've never had a Beta Reader other than friends, and you are right they basically are "yes men" because they love you. I need to find some Betas right now for my new romance/thriller. Thanks for the advice.
    Tema Merback
    Writing as Belle Ami
    The One (The Only One) #1
    The One & More (The Only One) #2
    Coming 2016 – One More Time is Not Enough (The Only One) #3
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  3. not interested, but good luck


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