What is a Beta Reader (and What It Isn’t)

What is a Beta Reader (and What It Isn’t)2022-01-27T21:59:37+00:00

Through my many years of writing, one of the biggest improvements came when I discovered and started using Beta Readers. I’ve also found that many people aren’t clear what such readers are and to make matters more confusing, different authors have unique definitions for what Beta Readers are. So, what follows is my definition of what a Beta Reader is and what they are not. Let’s start with the easy part–what they aren’t

In my book, Beta Readers are not editors nor are they proofreaders. These are also important roles and yet distinctly different from a Beta Reader. So, what exactly is a Beta Reader? Well, it’s right there in the phrase. Beta Readers are first and foremost readers, people who love to disappear into a book for hours at a time (when they are given the opportunity). And the beta part means they get to read a book after it’s been written and before it’s been released or published.

The primary purpose of a Beta Reader is to give helpful and constructive feedback that the author can consider and often (but not always) take action on. Now let’s look at what I look for in more detail.

My Beta Readers receive my latest stories in advance of anyone else. They then provide input on the story focusing on such important elements as:

  • Character Development
  • Plot
  • Description
  • Dialogue
  • Conflict

Qualities & Attributes of an ideal Beta Reader

Here are some of the qualities and attributes I feel are most important for a Beta Reader:

  • A Beta Reader is able to provide constructive comments on books and stories from a Big Picture perspective. They can make useful, valuable, and constructive comments that result in a stronger and more engaging story.
  • They are able to share what works about the story from their perspective in a positive and specific way focusing on such areas as those listed above.
  • They are then able to also make specific comments on what could make the story even better. This includes pointing out places in the story where they may have become confused, where they lost interest, or where the story seemed to ramble.
  • They are able to communicate their insights in a positive and constructive way.

Are You a Good Fit?

Here’s are a few other points that will help you decide whether you may be a good match as one of my Beta Readers:

  • While you may be an avid reader of many different genres, you particularly enjoy reading speculative and visionary fiction (especially science fiction, fantasy, and magical realism).
  • You are able to read and comment on a book timely fashion which is usually within 2-4 weeks of receiving notice of the book.
  • If something unexpected comes up that prevents you from reading the book in a timely manner, you’ll communicate immediately so other arrangements can be made.
  • You will be mindful to make positive and constructive comments intended to make the book better while also empowering the writer (that’s me).
  • Your comments will be as specific as possible including highlighting what you like about the book and that you feel works well, as well as specific suggestions that could improve the book and/or story.
  • You will remain unattached to your comments and insights, knowing the final decision is left to me, and my decision not to make certain changes does not mean I do not appreciate and value the comments and suggestions.

On Becoming a Beta Reader

It’s simple to request becoming a Beta Reader. Simply complete the application form below and include any questions you may have of me. I’ll get back in touch with you within a week to ten days. At this point, I’m looking for no more than five additional Beta Readers to add to the team.

How It All Works

The first step is to complete the form below as completely as you can. Don’t hold back. If you’re a fantastic Beta Reader, let me know. If this would be your first time, that’s okay as well. Once you are accepted on the team, I’ll add you to the team roster so the next time I finish a book and polished it up a bit, I’ll contact you to let you know a bit about the story. If it’s a part of a series and you’ve not read the books before it AND you would like to in a timely way, I’ll provide you with copies of them.

Of course, you are not obligated to read the book if it doesn’t resonate with you, or if you’re swamped with other commitments. I, in turn, will do my best to give my Beta Reader time at least 2-4 weeks of advance notice. Simple, right? Well, what are you waiting for? Let’s have some fun collaborating in this way.

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