Working with beta readers might be overwhelming, especially if it is your first time. Beta readers are the test audience to your manuscript and they can play an important part in making your book better.
5 must do tips to working with beta readers
Every beta reader or manuscript critique is different but the process of their work is similar. In order to make the best of their professional services, here are some of the not-so-secret tips to working with beta readers!
Prepare the manuscript
Beta readers are not just your friends or family, (even if they sometimes are.) They are professionals, even if they volunteer or exchange favors with you, who know what they are doing.
Related: Can beta readers steal your work?
And it is imperative that you send them a “clean” copy of your manuscript. In other words, do not send them your draft.
They deserve to read the self-edited and complete version of manuscript and it works better for both the author and the beta reader to do so.
And also, ensure you send your manuscript in the format (physical or ebook formats) they require to make things easier for them.
I have heard of horror stories from authors being charged hundreds of dollars extra because the beta reader preferred a printed copy to read. I think this situation would have been salvaged if the author had printed the pages herself.
So before sending off the manuscript ensure that you both are on the same page.
Brief them about your requirements
It is also critical to voice out your critical expectations from the beta reader. This step would minimize the disappointments and more importantly, save time for both of you.
Most professional beta readers have a feedback report format and they will be able to share what you can expect from them.
Related: 35+ questions to ask your beta readers for a better feedback
But if you have some specific questions to be addressed and answered, it is better if you share it with them. This might help you to zero in the edits you make later in your manuscript.
Share a time frame
Talking of requirements, one of the most common problems in using a voluntary beta reader or use an “exchange of favors” between your critique group is the delivering within the time frame.
More often than not, when people volunteer to do something for you, it becomes difficult to enforce a time schedule upon them.
But in this case, it is necessary to be clear about the timeline because there are several other things (like revising and editing) to do after receiving their feedback.
Be open to criticisms
As we all know, the main goal of beta reading is get feedback from strangers (or not so strangers) about your manuscript.
It goes without saying that you need to be open to accepting those criticisms and it is not an attack on your writing ability or yourself. Do not take them personally, nor you have to defend yourself.
If you are using more than one beta reader (and you probably should), collect the feedback from all of them in an orderly fashion. Create a master list of all comments and work through them one by one.
That being said, you needn’t accept every suggestions or criticism of every beta reader you engage. It is usually better to trust your instinct when you are not convinced with their reasoning.
Send in feedback
Do not forget to thank your beta reader for their services, and return the favor if need be. You can ask them for a quote about the book to use in your book marketing, and most readers would be happy to see their name in “print”.
In case of a professional or even some volunteer beta readers, a testimonial or a review of their services would be appreciated.
Also if you are taking part in an exchange of critiques with your writing group or another author, do send in your beta reading report of their manuscript as agreed upon.
Treat your beta reader in a respectful and professional manner. And your relationship with them can make your book better and more successful.
Related articles that you may like
- Finding a beta reader for your project
- Choose the ideal beta reader: Qualities to look for
- 35+ questions to ask beta readers
- Can beta readers steal your work?
- Why hire me as your beta reader?
Have you worked with beta readers before? Or have you acted as one yourself? Let us know about your beta reader experiences in the comments.