Writing a novel is a marathon that you have to run over and over again. An endless array of drafts and rewrites. It can be exhausting even for the most persistent of us.
The good news? You don’t have to run it alone. Or, you do have to do the running, but with a team of beta readers to support you along the way, the journey from idea to finished book worthy of being read by others can be a lot easier. Your beta readers’ reactions can tell you whether you’re on the right track, and if you are, they will be able to help you reach more readers when you eventually publish.
The bad news: For many authors, beta readers are notoriously difficult to come by.
Therefore, we have tried to put together a list of advice and resources to help you find your beta readers. Enjoy!
What to think of before you start looking
#1 Understand the difference between beta readers and critique partners
Critique partners are typically other writers with whom you can toss and turn ideas while you build your story. They will know of, and have ideas about, common tropes and mistakes, and will point them out. They can be very useful, but they are not beta readers.
Beta readers are people from your target audience; the ones who you hope will eventually want to pay for your book and recommend it to their friends. They should read your finished work from the perspective of someone who actually paid for it, and give you feedback on whether they found it worth the effort or not (and why). While writers usually read a lot, beta readers do not need to be writers.
#2 Make it attractive to read for you
There is a ton of great books to read out there, so why should anyone gamble and pick your untested work? Depending on how early you are in the process, the story might be lined with typos and unsolved problems, so you need to give them something in return. That could be a free copy of your book when published, to be named in the credits, or even monetary compensation. Be creative! The more attractive / unique you can make it to be your reader, the more people will read for you.
#3 Be respectful to your readers
Beta readers are not interested in reading garbage, so make sure to have polished and proof-read your story before sharing it with them. Give them something finished to sink their teeth in, and be clear with everyone what type of feedback you are looking for. Otherwise no one will get past page one, and the feedback you’ll get will not be on the story, but on how unreadable they found it to be. Value your readers when you’ve found them. Treasure them!
Where to find your readers
Okay, time for the list. This was what you came here for, wasn’t it? Before you start looking, I hope you read the advice above, because it will help you find and keep the right beta readers. I found and kept 150+ beta readers this way, and you could, too.
- Goodreads beta reader group
- Search for Beta reader groups on Facebook
- #betareaders, #betabustle and #betareadersneeded hastags on Twitter
- #betareaders, #betabustle and #betareadersneeded hastags on Instagram
- BetaReaders: Connecting Authors with Betas on Reddit
- Absolute write
- My writers circle
Apart from the online world, I encourage you to try to go offline as well. You’ll be surprised at how many readers you can find this way.
- Libraries and book stores: I found many of my beta readers by simply putting up posters there.
- Lectures: If you give lectures on a subject related to your writing, use this chance to draft beta readers who are already sold on your stuff.
- After the credits of your already published books: readers who enjoyed your previous books are great beta readers of your next one.
- In your newsletter: not really offline, but you get it. Tap your existing audience!
That’s it for now! When you have found your prospective beta readers, don’t hesitate to leverage the BetaReader.io platform to run your beta 🙂