This week, we’re checking in with Bill Kandiliotis, whose writing journey began almost two decades ago, going from producing short films to learning to write screenplays, to writing novels. He is mainly into science fiction, but is branching out into other genres.

How important would you say that beta readers are for your books?

– Betas are your first reaction to your story. When writing, It’s important to write independently from the market, otherwise, originality suffers, but beta reads help you bridge the gap between the story inside your head and the audience, says Bill, who typically takes feedback from three to four readers for a story.

What kind of feedback or information do you look for when running a beta?

– Readability. I would like to know straight away if the work is incomprehensible at any point in time. Plus, care factor. Does the reader care enough about the characters or plot to finish the book? It’s not about changing the story to suit an audience, it about measuring how digestible the work is.

Did your test on render any insights that made you tweak your story?

– It helped me understand which genre/market to aim for. Re-organised and labelled several chapter titles and sequences. Cleaned up some exposition.

What are your best tips for other authors who are thinking about starting to work with beta readers?

– Don’t demand too much feedback on every bit of detail. Don’t treat it like an editing process, have a finished product for them. Betas are there to help you avoid disasters and to get an idea on what market you’re pushing for. Like movie test screenings, it’s a final review before going to print.