Wednesday Writer Wisdom/ The Beta Reader


                                            The Beta Reader

Welcome to another Wednesday Writer Wisdom. I feel great everyone! I just finished my novel now what?  Time to find myself some Beta Readers, that’s what.

So what is a Beta reader and why do I need one you might ask? Well its simple, a beta reader gives you feedback on your finished manuscript. They are the ones that find the bugs in your work before the final “release” version goes out. They can improve its readability, its usefulness and even its saleability, probably not a word but it sounds good.

Seriously guys the Beta readers are your best friends. You have spent so much time with your novel, hoping you got all those pesky errors down. You are probably biting at the bit to get it to the world so that everyone can see how great you are as a writer, but hold on.   You spend so much time on our own manuscripts that you might not be seeing it objectively that’s where the Beta reader comes in.

I came across this article by Belinda Pollard the other day which she talked about  the need for Beta Readers   In her post she states  what a beta reader is and why every author no matter if they are going the self-publishing route or the traditional way, we all need good Beta Readers.

In her second post on Beta Readers she talked about how to find that perfect reader for your manuscript. She pointed out some clear and precise aspects of the Beta Reader. All of which I agreed, and urge you to take a look at what she said. If you don’t have the time I’ve narrowed them down to what I thought were important for me and perhaps you might find them help as well.

Personal characteristics of the Beta:  You want to look for someone that is in your target demographics. That means someone that reads the kind of stories that you have written. That makes common sense since they will respond to your book similar to the way of your intended readers. Okay, you can’t find these gems. Then try the next best thing.  Look for readers with that publishing understanding, these are the type of readers that can put themselves in your target reader’s shoes. If you find one of these Beta’s you have found pure gold.  You want someone that’s opinionated, but know how to justify their opinion without killing your dream. With that said, you do not want to get anyone close to you, like a life partner or your Mom. They will only tell you want you want to hear.

Reading and writing of the Beta Way:  Keep an ear  out, Beta’s are regular readers. Remember those friends  or co-workers who often mention a book they’ve read. Ideally, Beta’s read broadly, not restricting themselves to just one type of book.   They are also writers who are motivated to help you with your book, because they know how much they appreciate help with their own work. They comprehend the value of a good beta read.

Publishing smarts of a Beta: They understand what makes a good book, plot development and characterization, structure and purpose they even understand what creates suspense etc.  They comprehend the difference in a writer’s “voice” from what’s “technically correct” They recognize that a few typos in the beta read doesn’t make a bad book. (Those any good copy editor or proofreader can fix)

Ideally you would want at least 2-4 Beta Readers for your manuscript. Perhaps you know more than 4 people that you can ask, but keep in mind; you are looking for the above characteristics to help guide you in choosing the right Beta for your baby.   These characteristics aren’t set in stone however. You are the author and thus the best judge of what kind of input your book needs to take it to the next level whatever that might be.


You can find out more about Belinda Pollard on her site


  1. Excellent article. One key is picking people you 1) think will be honest with you, and 2) from whom you are willing to take honest criticism. If writers don’t want that, they’re not looking for beta readers, just a pile of people to love their book and make them feel good.

    1. Well said Bill, I should add these to the post. Trust, Honesty and acceptance
      I had someone look at one of my books a while ago and I have to say, what he told me pissed me off.
      But after a moment of contemplations I took a look at his criticism with a clear head.
      I felt bad because I had to agree, my story needed a lot of work.

      Thanks Bill!

  2. I received an email the day before yesterday, from an author via LinkedIn asking if I would be interested in being a Beta Reader. She is looking for 50 people. Best of luck!

  3. Ah! Beta readers are good, especially if they are devouted to the time frame they give to reading one’s manuscript, and after, are able to be resourceful via their response. I wish you the best with finding good beta readers.

    1. Thanks Uzoma! I like your points! \

      They are so on the mark! I’ll use them when I find my betas, I hope they can provide the insight I’ll looking for.

      Thanks for the information my friend. 🙂

    1. I have used a few. They were writer as well and they give me some sound advice on everything from dialogue to perfecting my voice. I’m looking for a few Beta readers now for my YA paranormal suspense so I decided to write this up for this week. Why are you chicken?

      1. I suppose the ‘chicken’ part comes from having work rejected and from getting critiques from group situations; as Ms. Pollard mentioned, the whole “group think” thing can be difficult to work through. I’ve only published just recently with “Adventures in Cargo City” and look forward to doing it again. I have been considering the beta option instead of going with edits and critiques from the group (over at Scribophile for me).

        1. I know what you mean. I received enough rejection this week to last a lifetime, but we continue to write on don’t we.
          Anyway, I’m a newbie too. I’m part of this site for writers not group think thing unless you want. They are authors that look at my work for me. They are my beta readers to a point. Every writer I use is a select person like I stated in my post. They help look for things I would not see, and address issue I didn’t know I should. They also force me to dig deeper, I try to do the same for them whenever they ask.

        2. There are some good ones around.
          Hey! Why don’t we start one here, that way we can get a group of friends we already know to join? 🙂

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