Who are beta readers and what do they do?

If you’ve been in the writing game for a while then you’ve probably heard the phrase “beta readers”. But, who are these people and where do you find them?

Beta readers are typically unpaid volunteers that will gladly read your manuscript and provide you with feedback. In return, it’s a nice gesture to give them a free autographed copy of your work.

It’s essential for writers to find people to read their work so that they can receive valuable feedback in order to perfect their works before sending them off to a publisher.

Where to find beta readers?

Social media is the gateway for writers to find readers that are willing to critique their stories. It’s important for writers to have more than one beta reader so that they can get lots of feedback. This way you can compare the feedback and if both beta readers are saying the same things then they probably have a good point.

You can find beta readers on any social media platform. Facebook is especially known for having helpful writing groups that contain lots of beta reading volunteers. Here are some of my personal favorite groups:

Twitter also has a lively writing community. If you use the hashtag #writingcommunity, you will find hundreds of thousands of writers wanting to connect. If you make a tweet using this hashtag asking for a beta reader, there’s a good chance you’ll get volunteers.

What to expect

Most readers will provide you with quick feedback after finishing your material. They’ll most likely talk about what they enjoyed about the piece and what could be improved upon.

However, with the growing demand for beta readers in the writing community, more and more professional beta readers have risen to the task. These story readers will do more than give quick feedback. They will provide you with pages of in-depth critiques along with ways to make your piece work better.

Most professional story readers will have a degree in English or Creative Writing so they can provide you more critical feedback. While professional readers are the best choice, they can be a bit pricey.

Honestly it really depends on what you’re looking for in terms of feedback. If you’ve only written a few pages and just want to know if you’re going in the right direction, it’s better to ask a friend or a volunteer to read your work. But, if you’re looking for more in depth feedback, then you might need to hire a professional.

When to get a beta reader

It’s better for you to get a beta reader AFTER you have finished your full manuscript. You want to give your beta reader a complete story so their critiques can be more beneficial. If you don’t have an ending, it would be difficult for them to accurately critique your story if they don’t know where it’s going.

Giving your work to a stranger can be scary at first. However, the writing community is strong and willing to help. If the feedback is applicable it can push you to create your best work.

But remember, you do not have to fully change your work based around the critiques. Sometimes beta readers are not always justified in their feedback and it is up to you as the writer to decide which critique will help your story and which one will not.

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