The complete guide to working with beta readers

Harry Potter and the magic beta reader

What are beta readers?

How I work with beta readers

Why use beta readers?

How many beta readers do you need?

When is best to test?

How to recruit, brief and communicate with beta readers

Support fellow writers by being a beta reader

Ways to gather feedback

  • Did the instruction make sense?
  • Do you think that was a useful tool?
  • Did it make any difference to you as a small business owner?

Rowling gets rejected again

How to get started with beta readers

  1. Audience: Work out who’s your target reader and where they hang out so you can recruit the right beta readers for your work in progress.
  2. Expectations: Be clear what’s involved, what you expect from people and what they get in return. You can use perks to boost recruitment — explain if people get free books or their name in the acknowledgements. But remember beta readers do this for love not money!
  3. Feedback: You’ll only get the right feedback if you ask the right questions, so think about what’s important for you to ask, or design exercises to give you what you need.
  4. Logistics: Think about how you’ll receive feedback, whether it is face to face, online or by email or using a collaborative writing tool like Google Docs.
  5. Be open: Listen, learn and use feedback to improve what you’re writing. You don’t have to accept everything that everyone says, but pick up on patterns.
  6. Enjoy. When you get it right, people will notice. You’ve worked hard so appreciate positive feedback and learn to take a compliment — you’ve earned it.
  7. Gratitude: Thank your readers — they have given up their valuable time and attention to help you. Let them know how much you appreciate them.
  8. Give back: Support your community of writers and become a beta reader — you’ll get as much from the experience as the writer will.

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