This isn’t to say there weren’t any volunteers or interest.
However, what was happening was that many authors could find people to take their books but few readers were returning useful feedback—if they were returned it at all. The truth is, many people want to support their author friends, yet they have obligations outside of reading a free book and providing feedback. In some cases, the readers didn’t enjoy the book and don’t know what to say or how to articulate the shortcomings. As someone with connections to avid readers and the knowledge of what was needed. I decided to utilize the reliable readers in my network and request authors to try out our program.
What is beta reading?
Beta reading is reading pre-published books on characters, plot, pacing, problem/offensive areas, and relatability. It is typically done before your book goes to a professional editor. It’s intended to be a round of group feedback, so you’d typically have multiple beta readers and possibly multiple rounds of beta reader feedback.
Who are our beta readers?
Beta readers are readers, writers, and editors. In our program, all the beta readers go through video training, guided questionnaires, and are experienced in beta reading. They read regularly in romance and fantasy, and they are able to return your feedback on a schedule.
The best beta readers are those that have a set number of things they look for in your manuscript, whether they get that information from you or have a set of questions they work from.
However, one of the biggest mistakes I see authors make is asking friends and family to act as beta readers. This is almost always a bad idea. Friends and family often don’t know what they’re looking for, have interests that may not match your writing, and above all, they don’t usually want to hurt your feelings. Beta readers don’t want to hurt your feelings either, but they aren’t as sensitive to your feelings as those that are close to you in your day-to-day life.
How can authors benefit from it?
The benefits of beta readers can vary for every author because everyone’s writing is different, so the types of feedback will vary. However, some benefits are:
- Story-level feedback from readers in your genre
- Early direction for changes to be made in your book
- Informs how your story is landing with readers
- Prepares you for future feedback and reviews
- Provides specific areas for improvement
- Let’s you know where your readers are the most engaged
It’s up to each author how they use and interpret their feedback. But at the end of the day, it can prepare you for the types of things you may see in reviews or hear from early readers. Since our beta readers choose your book based on interest and a volunteer basis, you get an inside look at what types of readers are being attracted to your book as is.
What does the Beta Reading Service entail?
With our program, you are guaranteed constructive feedback from trained beta readers. Furthermore, we compensate our beta readers for their time and to encourage the return of their feedback forms.
What’s better is that our readers have already provided valuable feedback on books like yours. Moreover, you and our betas remain anonymous to keep all responses and manuscripts private and honest.
Lastly, the program is structured around a dedicated feedback form for your project with specific questions the beta readers answer. This structure provides you with multiple points of view focused on important topics to help you make necessary improvements.
Our process is straightforward to make it as easy as possible for authors:
- Submit an inquiry
- Pick your dates
- Sign your contract and pay your invoice
- Submit your PDF through the link the Saturday before your date
- Receive your feedback
- Give us your feedback
What can authors expect?
This will depend on the way you get your beta readers. From our program, authors can expect:
- 3-5 beta readers
- Quick turnaround: 1-2 weeks
- Reliable feedback from experienced beta readers
- Information on their hook, story line, character development, and problem areas
From beta readers outside our program you still need to have some requirements. If you’re using your own beta readers you can expect:
- Direct answers to the questions you need answered
- An open dialogue regarding your manuscript
- More feedback than “it was good,” or “it was not my favorite”
- Timely responses
What to do with the feedback
“I will be cutting chapters and subplots that didn’t serve the story or confused my readers.”- Kiley Suarez, romance author
The readers will likely have differing opinions on these things, but that’s okay. Look for a consensus or any helpful information regarding areas you may have gotten stuck on during the writing process. You should also expect more information than if they enjoyed the book. Beta readers should be giving you specifics like the overall impact of your characters, twists, or storyline.
Compile any agreed upon feedback first.
It will be the easiest place for you to start. For example, if they all agree your main character was hard to relate to, dive into what they said was unrelatable.
Was your intention for them to be unrelatable? Then great, you nailed it.
It wasn’t your intention? Then it’s time to explore where the disconnect happened. The readers should have had more to say about where they started to disconnect. This could be a great hint at what you can research on your own.
Once you’ve gone through the consensus feedback, tackle the feedback that didn’t get repeated. A lack of consensus doesn’t invalidate the feedback. Some readers are better trained, more astute, or intuitive when it comes to finding weak points in books. But I’ve seen many times where one reader noticed something none of the others did in a book. But, I’ve seen it the other way too.
This is where your knowledge as an author comes into play. You will need to read through the remainder of the comments without ego and decide:
- Does this comment make sense?
- Was that the intention? Sometimes it is.
- Is this worth looking into or exploring creatively?
As with any artform, it’s subjective. If you implement changes you don’t like, delete them. If you didn’t realize something was confusing, double check it. The great part about the feedback is that it’s yours to do with as you see fit.
“I appreciated how simple it was to book a beta reader feedback slot and to submit my manuscript, and I really appreciated the good communication!”-Sarah Halter, Fantasy author
If you’re ready to try our beta reading program, check out our beta reading program and submit your inquiry. We work to match you with your best dates and are looking forward to helping you on your journey to publishing.