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Beta Readers: Really Useful Links by Lucy O’Callaghan

Writing.ie | Resources | Essential Guides | Links for Writers
Lucy O'Callaghan

Lucy O’Callaghan

Beta readers are people that read your finished manuscript before you send it out into the world of agents and publishers. They can be friends, colleagues, or other writers in your community. Anyone who is a reader of the genre you write in and who can give constructive criticism can be a beta reader. However, you mustn’t just pass on your novel and say let me know what you think. Some structure is needed for both parties involved in the experience. I have put together some articles and podcasts that I hope will give you some insight into using beta readers.

  1. https://www.authorlearningcenter.com/writing/getting-feedback/w/peer-reviews/6175/how-to-choose-beta-readers-and-why-you-need-them—article

Beta readers can provide an outside perspective on your book. They can help you determine if your story successfully made the journey from your mind to your readers. This article shares quick tips to maximise the benefits of using beta readers, including set expectations – tell them what you want to know and give them a list of questions. You should look for four qualities when choosing beta readers, including do they fit your target audience? Do they read the type of book you have written? Can they constructively give feedback?

  1. https://www.masterclass.com/articles/beta-reader-guide#quiz-0

The beta reader’s role is to deliver constructive criticism from the perspective of a book’s target audience. Masterclass gives you 3 reasons to work with a beta reader including that they can point out errors a writer has overlooked, and they can share their opinions about the book. In sharing 6 tips for working with beta readers, Masterclass tells us to seek out a variety of opinions, prepare follow-up questions but don’t think of them as editors, and make sure you respect both the beta reader’s time and opinions.

  1. https://nybookeditors.com/2017/10/what-you-need-to-know-about-working-with-beta-readers/

Beta readers are another pair of eyes on your story and they can give you unbiased feedback on your novel. You should have more than one beta reader so that you can get a consensus overall on what works and what doesn’t. This article shares a 9 step path that you might take on the way to getting published and shows where a beta reader fits into this path. It is important when working with beta readers to have a tough skin, ask them questions, and wait a while before implementing any feedback.

  1. https://jerichowriters.com/beta-readers-everything-you-need-to-know/

This article reminds us to remember that by using beta readers you are simply garnering opinions, it doesn’t mean you have to act on every one of their comments. A beta reader is not an editor, proofreader, or sensitivity reader. Suggested questions are given: is the book consistent? Are the first three chapters engaging? Are the characters rounded?

  1. https://heartbreathings.com/all-about-beta-readers/

A great beta reader is going to give you valuable feedback on your novel from a reader’s perspective and so it is important to give your beta reader guidance on what you are looking for from them. You can download some free sample questions here too. Sarra discusses when you should send your book to a beta reader, where to find them, and what the process is. She recommends 4 beta readers per book.

  1. https://www.nownovel.com/blog/value-beta-readers-find-benefit/

This article discusses the value of beta readers and how to find and benefit from them. Authors spend so much time writing and self-editing that they can struggle to read their work objectively and this is where a beta reader comes in. They can give you a critical analysis of your work. It is important to find a beta reader that isn’t too close to you but is a reader of your genre, and that they are writers themselves.

PODCASTS

  1. https://www.well-storied.com/blog/new-writers-guide-to-working-with-beta-readers

In this guide to working with beta readers, the podcast answers the most common questions about the process.

  1. https://www.well-storied.com/blog/how-writers-can-prepare-for-a-fantastic-beta-reader-experience

Another podcast from Well-storied. This one shares a guide to creating the very best beta reader experience for you and your reader.

  1. https://podcasts.google.com/feed/aHR0cHM6Ly9mZWVkcy5zaW1wbGVjYXN0LmNvbS8wSW03azVodg/episode/Y2MxMjEyZGMtNjA2ZC00MjBhLTg5ZjEtMGFlYTIyMjE5Mzdl?hl=en-IE&ved=2ahUKEwjz3bvBy4X4AhUMaMAKHcYWAEMQjrkEegQIBBAO&ep=6

321 Book podcast is talking all things beta readers. It covers the best people to ask for better feedback and the questions you should ask them.

  1. https://podcasts.google.com/feed/aHR0cHM6Ly9mZWVkLnBvZGJlYW4uY29tL2hpZGRlbmdlbXNib29rcy9mZWVkLnhtbA/episode/aGlkZGVuZ2Vtc2Jvb2tzLnBvZGJlYW4uY29tL2I2NzlhMmQ1LTk3MjAtM2U4ZC05NTdkLTkwYTgzMDU5ZTQ4Yw?hl=en-IE&ved=2ahUKEwjz3bvBy4X4AhUMaMAKHcYWAEMQjrkEegQIBBAU&ep=6

Whether you are a new author or a seasoned pro, it never hurts to have a fresh and unbiased assessment of your story. The podcast from Fully Booked delves into the topic along with two authors.

Using beta readers is a great opportunity to find out what readers think of your book and if it works. Using a structure around a timeline of feedback from your beta reader, asking initial questions and follow-up questions are important to the process. Remember that the more you tailor these questions to your novel, the better. Be specific. It is a good idea to use more than one beta reader so that you can get a consensus overall on what works and what doesn’t. But be sure to consider their feedback carefully and let it sit with you for a while before you make any changes. I hope this week’s column has been useful for you. Please get in touch if there are any topics you would like me to cover.

(c) Lucy O’Callaghan

Instagram: lucy.ocallaghan.31.

Facebook: @LucyCOCallaghan

Twitter: @LucyCOCallaghan

About the author

Writing since she was a child, Lucy penned her first story with her father called Arthur’s Arm, at the ripe old age of eight. She has been writing ever since. Inspired by her father’s love of the written word and her mother’s encouragement through a constant supply of wonderful stationary, she wrote short stories for her young children, which they subsequently illustrated.
A self-confessed people watcher, stories that happen to real people have always fascinated her and this motivated her move to writing contemporary women’s fiction. Her writing has been described as pacy, human, moving and very real.
Lucy has been part of a local writing group for over ten years and has taken creative writing classes with Paul McVeigh, Jamie O’Connell and Curtis Brown Creative. She truly found her tribe when she joined Writer’s Ink in May 2020. Experienced in beta reading and critiquing, she is currently editing and polishing her debut novel.
Follow her on Instagram: lucy.ocallaghan.31. Facebook and Twitter: @LucyCOCallaghan

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