Beta readers are a very nifty ‘tool’ authors use to improve their book. Some even put together a beta team that will also help them with marketing and promotions although this often means you might have to encourage them financially to do so. Overall beta readers point out plot holes, give their honest opinion and help you to find out what will work and what won’t in the current market.
WHAT IS A BETA TEAM?
Beta readers are non-professional readers who help authors by reading through their unpublished but edited manuscript. They read with intent to provide general feedback on various aspects of the work such as plot, character development and pace. They are often seen as a means that every author should practice. Usually, their insights turn out to be very helpful because they look for apparent things like the characterization, pacing, and voice and will call out good or cumbersome sentences.
WHY BETA READERS
You could see beta readers as a kind of focus group. This focus group will help you improve your book and will give you insight into how well received your book will be on the current market. They can also be a tool to help launch your book with a momentum you see only reserved for the savviest of self-publishers. If you make beta readers be an integral part of your book, if you make them feel as if they are part of the ‘inner circle’ they will develop a sense of pride and ultimately help you to promote your book.
If you can obtain and manage a beta team, your book launch and sales can find the following advantages:
- Improve your book, plot, characters and sentence structure
- Work away plot and flow glitches
- Guarantees your target market loves your book before you launch it
- Accumulate reviews for the day of the launch
- Help boost your Amazon Best Seller Rank immediately
- Obtain better book launch traction and thus more organic Amazon sales
WHERE TO FIND BETA READERS?
Distinguishing who will be your beta reader is vital. You need to determine the type of people you want to engage; you want them to be someone who likes to read books in the same genre as your own book. Uninterested readers will not give precise and reliable feedback and will be a total waste of your time.
There is an enormous network of writers and readers on social media, making it a perfect place to seek beta readers. You can find them by posting a request on your blog, Facebook groups, twitter, and email (those who have subscribed to your newsletters). I would personally keep away from friends and family. Your friends and family do not want anything more than to see you succeed, however they are often biased. Nobody ever became a better author by hearing how great they are.
Remember, you need to have more than one beta reader. You might even want to have back-up readers on your list, whom you can reach out to and ask for help if beta readers did not finish (might be a sign there’s something wrong with the flow) your book or decided to drop out for other reasons. You want to aim for at least 20–30 beta readers. This process might seem hard for your first book, but you will have fine-tuned it once your second manuscript is ready!
6 THINGS TO REMEMBER WHILE WORKING WITH BETA READERS:
Post an invitation for beta readers on your blog, website, and all Facebook groups that you are a member of. You can also announce you are looking for beta readers via a twitter, Instagram, newsletter, or a short video request on your YouTube channel.
- Get the details
When you have already chosen a beta reader, you must also note their age, nationality or cultural background as this will give you an idea in which section of the population your books are more enjoyed.
- Have your book ready
Be sure to prepare the documents and have them agreed on a file format before you start sending files. Don’t be one of those authors that invite beta readers to only read a couple of chapters! You are just wasting their time, and possibly turning potential beta readers off forever. Do the best that you can to ensure that your draft is in good shape and is consistent throughout the process.
- Be open for criticism
Don’t get too wary about your work. Eventually, you can choose what criticism you want to disregard and which you want to listen. Remember, if more than 50% of your readers scrutinize the same thing, you need to change it.
Your beta readers will sometimes make mistakes, but they are offering their time and effort to help you. Do not judge them and do not be mean. You’re not looking to justify your mistakes; you are looking to find out what people think of your work. So don’t justify any of the criticism they give you.
- Beta readers are not editors
Beta readers are no replacements for expert editors. If you are a self-publishing author, you can use beta readers to clean up your manuscript concerning plot and character development. As someone going for traditional publishing, use beta readers to polish up your manuscript before reaching out to agents. As nonfiction writers, use your beta readers to know if they have found your information/instructions to be relevant and easy-to-follow.
- Say “THANK YOU”
Remember to thank your beta readers. They offered their time and effort to help you assemble a better, stronger manuscript, so make sure to show some appreciation. Some authors mention their beta readers in the book, others send their beta readers the finished product albeit digital.
If you already have some beta readers, excellent! If you don’t have any, get some! It is time you used this important tool in the writing toolbox. Working without beta readers is like making a bookcase without a screwdriver. You are more likely to succeed, even though it takes longer, and the whole process can be a tad frustrating.