Preparing to Work with Beta Readers

In this series on beta readers, let’s shift our focus from beta readers to ourselves. Quite simply, are we ready for beta reader feedback? Here are some underlying questions to ask ourselves before we seek beta readers:

  • Is Our Book Ready? We’ll waste beta readers’ time if our book is not the best it can be when we seek feedback. And once we’ve wasted their time, they’ll not likely want to help us anymore. We honor them by giving them our best work.
  • Are We Ready to Receive Feedback? Some writers don’t want truly honest feedback. If we don’t want to hear the truth, then we shouldn’t ask beta readers for feedback. Yes, we all like to hear our writing is brilliant and that we shouldn’t change a thing, but that kind of feedback won’t make our book better. Remember, no writing will ever be perfect; it could always be better.
  • Will It Be Simultaneous or Sequential? Some writers work with one beta reader, make changes, and then look for a second one. Others work with multiple beta readers at the same time. The benefit of this is faster feedback; the risk is seeing the same mistakes pointed out by multiple readers. This is frustrating; I know from experience.
  • What Will We Offer Them? As covered last week in “Setting Expectations with Beta Readers,” there are multiple options to consider: a heartfelt “thank you,” a gift, an autographed copy of the book, recognition in the acknowledgments page, some quid pro quo, or financial compensation.
  • Have Expectations Been Discussed and Agreed Upon? Setting expectations reduces the chance of frustration for both parties. While this doesn’t need to be a contract (unless money is changing hands), expectations should be written down.

Once we honestly answer these questions and have our book in the best possible shape, then we’re ready to embark on the exciting road of beta readers.

Next week, we’ll wrap up this series discussing where to find beta readers.

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