Finding Feedback: Beta Readers

Beta readers, a really important part of the writing process. Writers find them once they are done with their works. Although it is much more advised for writers to have their works close to completion.

Or at least not at the first draft stage. Since first drafts aren’t the most enjoyable to things to read, and there is a term for this, which is known as an alpha readers.

But finding beta readers is a lot wider, unlike critique partners. Here are some ways that you can find them:

  • Real-life
  • Critique Groups
  • Writing Websites

Beta readers can also range either as a free service or a paid service. There is a difference between both. Which is explained in another of my blog post: On Paid Beta Reading

However even beta readers should be carefully picked. Some of them may not get back to you, and there is a spectrum especially if they show that they do not read or really like your genre.

Not to mention the different set of expectations. Some want someone to just get them back with feedback, regardless of how much was read, and willing to accept readers who guarantees feedback, but may not complete works. Others want it to be complete and puzzled otherwise.

Which is as I said, you would have to define what you’re fine with and what you’re isn’t. And whether what you’re asking of them fall out of what beta readers do. There are demands which fall into the category, where some might happy to comply and others turned off.

Beta readers are suppose to be there to tell how the reading experience is for them. They should be familiar with the genre you write in, or have read in a wide variety of genres.

A key thing to always remember is that beta readers who volunteer their time to you, with no pay, don’t need to put you above their life commitments. If the reason is because of life, please understand that it happens since they promised you their time, but they don’t owe you their labor and time either.

It’s one thing to be paid (which in this scenario they certainly do owe you an explanation) and another to be volunteering your time. And please, read what they are offering to do or the sort of genres they fall into.

As a beta reader, I have been on the receiving end of some strange things which have turned me off, and then eventually I just went into not completing.

Mostly because if I don’t, and continue to slog there is a possibility that I’ll just drop it and never get back to the author. It has happened before, because I just couldn’t be bothered after a long while of forcing myself to read. And that to me was the best solution. Cut it short and write them back on why I didn’t enjoy it, or why I didn’t like it.

So, seeking beta readers isn’t just asking around and sending your works out or emails to anyone who claims to be one. There is a lot of researching and conversation involved, and also there has to be boundaries. And also, please know that not all have good intentions.

Some just do this to take the work of the author and then post them online or sell them. So please be sure to check.

There are other more surefire ways to find feedback. Beta reading is one of them, but because by nature it is not an exchange, yes if all goes well the reader has a good story, and the writer gains valuable feedback. But there are a variety of relationships and dynamics which I won’t get into here. Probably for a later time.

However, there is a lot more possibility for it to go wrong, or it can go unfulfilled and plans and agreements can very well fall through.