Site icon Julie Navickas

Beta Reading: It’s More Than, “Did You Like It?”

“Your mom is not a beta reader; she will not provide you with critical feedback because… well, she’s your mom!”

Picture it. It’s the moment you’ve been waiting for. After days – weeks – months – maybe even years, you’re ready to type THE END on your manuscript. And while I want you to revel in that moment of accomplishment, I also want you to think about the step that follows.

Because your book is far from done.

In fact, you’re just getting started with the tedious process we call editing. And your first step is to find and secure a handful of beta readers. Beta readers are individuals who have an interest in your story, are familiar with the genre, and owe you nothing. Your mom is not a beta reader; she will not provide you with critical feedback because… well, she’s your mom! And in her eyes, whatever you wrote is likely the best book the world has ever seen. Beta readers should be people you do not know because they can share constructive feedback without feeling pressured to keep your feelings from being hurt.

So… get started! Secure at least 10-15 readers. Beta readers are everywhere. You can find willing volunteers on social media (Facebook has great groups like BetaReader Connect), or hire readers on platforms like Fiverr. Use your network – and your network’s network! Just be sure you’re inviting varying perspectives.

Once you’ve secured your list of willing readers, you are best served developing a specific list of questions (a Google form is an easy way to capture feedback!). Think critically about what you want to gain from the experience. What feedback will be most valuable to you moving forward in your second draft?

Here are some fantastic examples of what you might consider asking a beta reader. (NOTE: you will not ask your beta readers to answer every question listed below! Just choose what works best for you and what your needs are!)

For Fiction

For Non-Fiction

While this is a fantastic list to streamline your feedback, it’s important to recognize that beta reading is more than just a series of questions. Do not be afraid to give your readers guidance. Suggest that they include comments or their “train-of-thought” throughout your manuscript. Allow them to predict what will happen next and encourage them to ask “why” or type “I’m confused here because…” Their comments are helpful because they offer a new perspective – or, validate your own thoughts and choices.  

Everything in a beta read has value. Just be sure you think critically about what you want from the experience! Afterall, it’s more than just, “I liked it!”

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