Beta-readers. What is it all about?
Being an author, you know your book best. But still, you may overlook some important details. That is why you need beta-readers.
Who are they?
Beta-readers are non-professional readers who read a written work, generally fiction, with the intent of looking over the material to find and improve elements such as grammar and spelling, as well as suggestions to improve the story, its characters, or its setting. Beta reading is typically done before the story is released for public consumption. Beta-readers are not explicitly proofreaders or editors, but can serve in that context.
Why do you need them?
Beta-readers can highlight such things as plot holes, problems with continuity, characterization or believability. Even if your book is non-fiction, you can still need some help with fact-checking. Even if you’re planning to hire an editor, you should still ask someone to read your book before you make the next step.
Definition from: Karen Hellekson, Kristina Busse (2006). Fan Fiction and Fan Communities in the Age of the Internet: New Essays. McFarland. pp. 15, 43, 172–179. ISBN 0786454962.
How to find them?
- Facebook groups
It’s very easy to find beta-reader on Facebook. Try asking on groups connected to your book genre. You can’t imagine, how many people will be happy to read something new and fresh. Of course, not all will find the time for it, or they will just forget, so get ready for it. You can also try asking to fans of reading or other self-publishing authors.
If you don’t want to share the whole story, give them a part and see the reactions. Even if you’re still writing this is a great tool to check if you’re moving in the right direction. The opinions of beta-readers can be also extremely motivating.
- Family and friends
These are the easiest to find, but if they are busy or you shy, there are also other options.
Goodreads is a community connecting writers and readers. To look for beta-readers you can check its forum or simply ask people liking books similar to yours. You can also use one of their groups, for example Beta reader group with over 10 000 members. If you still don’t have an account on Goodreads – you should! Why? More information here.
- Other communities
If you’re a member of any community of writers or readers, ask your fellows. I’m sure some of them will be willing to help.