Posted in Editing

How To Find A Great Beta Reader You Can Trust

Finding beta readers isn’t as hard as you would think. They’re everywhere as long as you know the right places to look.

But before we go into where you should find your beta readers, let’s talk about the characteristics you would like your beta readers to have.

Because, of course, you want to have the right beta readers on your team, right?

How To Find Beta Readers You Can Trust

Your beta reader should…

  • Be your targeted audience. For example, they should have an interest in the genre you write and be the appropriate age.
  • They aren’t afraid to say what they think. They shouldn’t be afraid to tell you the truth about what they think of your book. If you have a beta reader who has absolutely no problems with your book, chances are something’s not right.
  • They’re not close friends or family members of yours. People close to you will have a tendency to bend the truth a little bit. You want someone who knows what they’re doing and, like the previous point isn’t afraid to speak their thoughts.
  • They’re readers. Find beta readers who read a lot. They’ll know what to look for, know what they’re doing. Bonus if they consistently read the genre you wrote.
  • They’re writers. This isn’t a must, but it helps. Writers understand writing like no one else does.
  • They’re brand new to the manuscript. If someone has already read your book, don’t ask them to be a beta reader. They won’t have that element of surprise or that, “what’s going to happen next?!” feeling.
  • Ideally, they’ll have a good grasp on publishing. They’ll know what makes a book a good one.
  • They have extra knowledge on the topics of your book. For example, if you’re writing about mental illness, ask a beta reader who has knowledge in that field. If you’re writing in a certain location, ask someone who’s been there or lives there. They may know things you didn’t.

Well, then! Now that we’ve got that out of the way…

Where do you find these kinds of beta readers?

  • Writing groups. Join a writing group whether it’s online or local, whether it’s a place where writers hang out or critique each other. You’ll make new friends and find a lot of things in common, including your manuscripts.
  • Workshops and conferences. Again, attend workshops. Most writers there are in the same boat as you. Make new friends and help each other out.
  • Social media. Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook groups, other blogs, etc. Writers are everywhere. You just have to strike up a conversation.

How do you get them to beta read for you?

  • Create real friendships. Writers need other writers to survive. Don’t go up to a stranger and say, “Hey, we’re both writers! Will you be my beta reader?” Be genuine. Get to know them, as a writer and as a person. You can help each other out, but you can also just hang out as people together and have a good time.
  • Offer something in return. Don’t find beta readers for the sake of helping yourself out. Beta readers do this for free so it’s only common courtesy to offer something in return. This can be offering to beta read for them when the time comes.
  • Ask questions. You want to know that they’ll be the right fit for your book. Ask they’re general interests, what they typically read, etc. Then you can decide together whether your book would be the right project for them.

In Conclusion…

Finding beta readers is easier than it seems, but it doesn’t go without working hard.

Just keep in mind that you’re not only looking for a beta reader, but you’re looking for a new writer friend as well. It doesn’t have to be strictly business all the time.

How have you found your beta readers? Are you looking for some now? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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Author:

Born and raised in Massachusetts, Rachel Poli is a writer and blogger. She has an associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education and a bachelor’s degree in English Studies. She enjoys writing young adult novels, middle-grade, and children’s picture books. She is currently working on her first novel.

35 thoughts on “How To Find A Great Beta Reader You Can Trust

  1. Rachel, this is a great post. I have tried beta readers who are unknown to me without great success, so I’ve chosen people on my critique groups who are critical and haven’t read the whole book. I also broke one of your rules – my daughter was a creative writing major in college and has a great eye for good writing. – I don’t let her see the book ahead of time. And as a daughter, believe me, she is critical! Finding good beta readers is tough!

  2. Personally I struggle more with finding alpha readers. I have quite a lot of friends who love to read and can tell me how they experience the story as a reader would, but finding somehow who can spot the character arc etc. and tell you where things go awry… That’s difficult

      1. Yeah, I am. We’re a group of five fantasy writers, some published, some, like me, hoping to be published. I hope they’ll be my alpha readers, but they already know so much about my writing process, I wonder if it’ll get in the way when it comes to alpha reader feedback…

      2. I don’t think that would get in the way at all. I think it would help a little only because they know how you work and think so it may be easier for them to give you suggestions.

      3. That’s true! But a big part of the first reading experience is gone… although that might be more important for beta readers… Oh, the mixed thoughts that cross my mind… 😛

      4. Lol, I know what you mean. I plan on asking a few people in my group to beta read my novel that they’ve already read the first 50 or so pages of. It’s all a matter of opinion and taste though.

      5. I do, yeah. It started about 2.5 years ago. (I think? I feel like I’ve been part of it for forever, lol.) We all write various genres though.

  3. Reblogged this on adaratrosclair and commented:
    I love the qualifications the author, Rachel, shared in this post AND I’m currently looking for beta readers who read fantasy (paranormal, dark, urban, middle-grade). Please contact me if you’d like me to help you too. 🙂

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