Almost two years ago, I posted advice for how to find beta readers. In the time since then, many people have asked me where they can find beta readers. I’d love to be able to offer a mega-list of resources for finding beta readers, and maybe this post can be the first step.
As I mentioned in that older post, if someone can give honest feedback, they can be a beta reader. Beta readers typically comment on things like confusing sentences or plot events, where their attention wavers, and what they think of the characters.
So we’re not necessarily looking for writing craft experts. Instead, we’re often looking for people we connect with, people who will follow through on promises, and people who can read with awareness. That means we want someone who will push us and our story to be better.
Step One: Want to Be Better
Before we look for beta readers, we have to ensure that we’re ready to receive feedback. It won’t do any good to track down beta readers if we’re going to ignore everything they say or if we’re going to get upset that they didn’t love our work as is.
Beta readers are not cheerleaders. We’re wasting their time if we can’t honestly want to hear what they have to say. (That doesn’t mean we have to agree with everything they say. *smile*)
If we waste their time, they won’t want to work with us again. And if that happens, we’re back at square one in looking for beta readers. So if we want to keep beta readers, we have to value their time and at least respect their feedback.
Where Can We Find Beta Readers?
Our Current Circle of Non-Writer Friends and Family:
As long as they can read with awareness and provide feedback for what worked or didn’t work for them—and at least hint as to why—they can be a valuable resource.
Our Current Circle of Writer Friends:
- Post a request for beta readers on Twitter, Facebook, WANATribe, your blog, etc.
- Offer to beta read for someone.
For example, when one of those writer memes to “post 2 paragraphs from your work in progress” goes around on Facebook, or when people post snippets of their work on their blog, leave a comment if you love the writing and say, “Let me know if you’re looking for a beta reader. I’d love to read more!” All great partnerships have to start somewhere, and they can start with you reading for them.
Our Current Circle of Writer Acquaintances:
- Post a request in our writer forums.
In a writing-oriented Google+, LinkedIn, Yahoo, Facebook, NaNoWriMo, or other forum group? Post information with your genre, story blurb, and what you’re looking for in the appropriate area of the forum, and see if anyone responds.
- Ask around in our writing organizations.
Are you a member of a writing organization? See if they have a matching service, or if they offer a mentor program. If the group has online components, post a request there too.
Outside Our Current Circle—Non-Writers:
- Ask at book clubs interested in our genre.
- Ask at the library if they know of any local resources or clubs.
- For younger readers, ask teachers, friends’ kids, or at school libraries.
Outside Our Current Circle—Writers
- If we’re not active on social media or members of writing groups or organizations, join and start making those connections. *smile*
Other writers are often our best resource for many aspects of writing and publishing—not just beta reading—so becoming part of a writing community is helpful all around.
- Join critique-oriented writing organizations:
Note that I haven’t used any of these online groups, so I can’t make recommendations. Some of these require paid membership, and I noted those where I knew of a fee structure.
Also, some of these act more as matching services (meaning all critiquing is done off-line and in private) and some of these require you to post your work publicly and critiquing is done online. Most of the latter require you to post feedback to others before allowing you to request feedback on your work. Look around for a site that will work for you.
- Post on beta-reader-matching/connection services (note that some of these may be more active than others):
- Janice Hardy’s Critique Group Connection
- How about We CP
- PUB(lishing) Crawl
- Deana Barnhart’s Critique and Beta Connections
- CP Matchmaker
- GalleyCat Writer’s Group Directory
- World Lit Cafe
- Goodreads groups like Beta/Proof Readers, Beta Reader Group, First Readers, The Circle
- Facebook groups like Beta Reader Writers Club
- NA Alley CP & Beta Board (for New Adult stories) (via Amanda K. Byrne)
- Beta Reader listing (note some of these are paid readers, which I don’t recommend unless you trust the quality)
Other Tips and Resources
For a successful beta-reading relationship, communication is key.
- We should communicate what we’re looking for as far as feedback, maybe explaining whether we’re looking for big picture or nitpicky feedback, or listing questions or concerns we have about our story. For example, I often ask my readers to mark:
- “Anything that takes you out of the story (confusing wording, voice/characterization seems off, too repetitive, no conflict/tension, etc.).
- Pacing issues (too slow, feels too “one note,” not enough of an arc, scene goes on too long, etc.).
- Emotional feedback (I love to see stream-of-consciousness emotional reactions when you notice them/think of adding them).”
- We can communicate with our beta readers about the style of feedback we find most helpful, like I discuss in these tips for being a better beta reader.
- If we’re working with readers outside our genre, we can communicate how they can focus their feedback on the big picture, like in these tips for beta reading other genres.
I hope that’s a start for a mega-guide to finding beta readers (or critique partners). If you have additional suggestions, please let me know in the comments and I’ll add them to the list!
Are you looking for beta readers? Did this post give you new ideas for where to look? If you have beta readers already, how did you find them? Do some of these methods work better for you than others? Do you have recommendations or positive comments for any of these sites? Or do you have cautions or negative comments for any of these sites?Pin It