What’s a beta reader? Someone who agrees to read your book to offer feedback, much like a professor does with papers before students submit them for grades. A beta reader works a lot like a manuscript consultant because they read the manuscript and talk to the author about their work without making hard edits the way a proofreader and editor will. Unlike a proofreader or editor, they won’t sweep through your manuscript for errors but focus on the core of your story. They should be familiar with the genre they are beta reading and be a part of the author’s target demographic. They should also be tied to details in the book to see how believable the manuscript really is.
Who should consider getting a beta reader? This is a good option for writers who need honest feedback they’re worried they won’t get from friends or writing groups. It’s a smart way to see how readers respond to your work before going through the publishing process. Self-publishers should definitely consider asking a beta reader to go through their manuscript if the manuscript won’t go through a proofreader or editor.
Where to look: Twitter, writing forums like Fictionpress.com and Goodreads.com, blog sites, writing groups, LinkedIn, and doing an internet search.
Cost: Normally beta reading is done for free, but, remember someone is taking a lot of time to critique your manuscript so be nice! Don’t expect them to line edit or reorganize your manuscript! A beta read also has the potential to become a book review. Book reviews mean publicity, publicity means sales!