Finding the best beta readers
-When you are looking at who should be your beta reader you want to consider a few things. It should be someone who likes to read, preferably someone who likes to read within your genre.
-If your book is a how-to book you will want to make sure you have a mix of readers, some who are already experts in your topic, some who are just learning, and some who have no clue what your topic is about. This will tell you how readers at different levels will receive your information.
-As much as it sounds scary, you want your opinionated friends to read this. It is better to hear critical feedback from a friend while you can still make the edits than to hear it from a stranger on the internet after your book is out.
-Make sure they understand what they are committing to. It is better to get a handful of committed beta readers who can give you good feedback than a couple dozen who don’t even respond.
A few tips/pointers I have found helpful:
– Send the manuscript out to your beta readers and ask them to all send feedback by a given date. That way you can aggregate feedback instead of just seeing each comment in isolation. You’re looking for trends in what is/isn’t working. You SHOULD NOT make all the edits that the first reader said and then all the edits the second readr had and so on. You’ll rewrite your entire book multiple times. You want to look for trends.
– Try to send the beta readers a list of questions to consider or elements to look out for. Some people will read through and just focus on typos/grammar/spelling. That is still super helpful, but what you are really looking for at this stage is, does this make sense? Can they follow what you are saying and do they feel that they could take action on it?
-You’ll probably need to send some friendly reminders. Most will be very happy to help, but they will have their own to-dos to focus on so they may wait until the last day of your deadline to get you feedback. (That’s why I always like to give them a deadline. It’s arbitrary, but it anchors them to complete the task by a given date). If you don’t give them a deadline don’t be surprised if they send their comments to you a year after the book is published.
-Thank yous – list them in the acknowledgments of the book, send them a small gift, offer to buy them a coffee, return the favor.
Best of luck as you get the book out to the first beta readers. What has your experience been with beta readers? How have you been able to make the most of their feedback and show your appreciation? Let’s keep the conversation going in the comments.
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