We are dependent on our beta readers for feedback on our finished manuscripts before publication.
WHAT ARE BETA READERS?
Beta readers are non-professionals who read a written work before publication, sometimes before the final edit. We ask ours to suggest ways to improve mechanical elements, like grammar and spelling, plus the overall story, characters, or setting. They are not expected to proofread or edit, but can make suggestions in these areas. Beta readers can identify such issues as plot holes, continuity, believability, and fact-checking.
WHY BETA READERS?
Even though I am a professional editor, I can miss errors in my own work. I also work so closely with Larry on his books I can miss elements. We especially appreciate readers who haven’t read other books in a series so they can let us know if information is missing.
WHEN DO WE ASK FOR THEM?
Once the story is complete, we still have several items to finish before the book is published (acknowledgements, dedication, promo, back matter, etc. plus the cover design). This is the point where we ask for beta readers.
HOW LONG DO THEY GET TO READ THE BOOK?
We usually ask our beta readers to get their comments back to us in about two weeks. Sometimes they get a little longer.
HOW DO WE FIND BETA READERS?
Sometimes we ask friends. More often, however, we put out the word on social media. For some of our books, we receive so many requests we have to limit the number. We like a few readers who are already familiar with our work along with a few who haven’t read previous books.
WHAT DO WE EXPECT?
We expect our beta readers to read the book in the timeframe we request. We expect them to give us feedback—both good and bad. We need to recognize any errors or issues so we can correct them. We also ask our readers for a one- or-two-sentence short review to include in the book.
DO ALL BETA READERS PERFORM?
No. I am always disappointed when someone is enthusiastic about reading a book and then doesn’t follow through. Sometimes, they never respond after we send them the advanced copy.
WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE A BETA READER?
If this sounds like something you would like to do, please comment on this blog, and I’ll keep you in mind for our next release.