Beta Readers

Before sending your work to a professional editor, I highly recommend having at least two people (fellow writers or avid readers) read over your book and let you know what they thought of it. Editors are amazing at fixing grammatical errors, sentence structure, and some will even comment on things like characters or the flow of the story, but you really need to have a few people give an honest opinion of your story to see if the concept works well.

I have had two beta readers go through my work and they have been absolute life savers. They pointed out some considerable flaws like continuity errors (i.e. forgetting one character dyed their hair and mentioning that they had their previous hue – oops!) and there were some significant historical inaccuracies I had missed, despite research. It would have been so embarassing to have my novel out on the market with such errors. Having two writers go over my work was the best decision.

Something to learn about self publishing: There is no rush.

Take the time to edit and tweak your story line until you are absolutely satsified. Then, edit it again. Have a few people do a peer edit after that and then, when everything makes sense and the details are in order, send it over to the editor.

Do you have a certain number of beta readers go over your story before sending it to an editor? Tell me your thoughts on beta readers. 🙂


26 thoughts on “Beta Readers

  1. This is some great advice! I have heard people talk about beta readers, but I wasn’t sure how important they were to the process. Great post!

      1. At the moment Sara I only have two. One who is a writer and one who isn’t lol.

        But, I get my work critiqued at my writing group and writing class. I really need more non-writers though 😉


  2. There is no rush…there is no rush…there is no rush…

    (I’m just going to keep saying this over and over again as I slave over my next book:))

    Thanks for the reminder!

  3. I agree with Vikki. It’s ideal to have both fellow writers and avid readers look over your book. Both types of readers catch continuity errors and typos, but the writers/critique partners usually come to plot and character development with a more critical eye, and will dig in and really critique your writing style if you ask them to. For the “reader” beta readers, I try to find people who have read extensively in my genre, and I ask them general questions about what they liked/didn’t like, if anything felt “off”, etc…

    I love my critique partners and beta readers!!!!

  4. I’ve had several beta readers and their comments were invaluable. Two of the readers made their comments, corrections, finding typos, etc. on hard copy. I spent ALL DAY YESTERDAY making the corrections my sister made. She is a technical writer and BOY, do I have a problem with comma placement. Geez Louise.

  5. I’ve had two family members and one friend read my book. Their input was great, but biased, because they love me. 🙂 I recently swapped MS’s with an aquaintance I met at a writing conference and the result was fanastic. She pointed out so many things I hadn’t considered before, and I feel like my MS is much stronger now.

    Yay to beta readers! So excited about your book, Sara!

  6. Betas: absolute necessity. Took me awhile of snooping around before I figured what people meant by that after hearing it for the first time.

    But then I wondered, “Well then, what’s an Alpha read? Is there such a thing?”

    In a writers group I recently joined I found out, Yes. An Alpha is a more technical review done by some “inner ring” (if you have such a thing) of fellow writers or those with editorial inclination, before going out to Betas for a purely artistic review.

    At least, that’s how this group’s does thing and it was music to my ears when I heard it at my first meeting there.

    All of which reminds me, I owe someone my first two chapters.

    Best wishes

  7. I totally agree. Beta readers are important. I prefer other writers since they usually catch things that others don’t. It’s definitely an important step during the editing process.

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