35+ questions to ask beta readers

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Finding a good and trustworthy beta reader is just a part of getting a feedback. Knowing what questions to ask your beta readers would ensure you have a chance to know how to make your manuscript better.

Asking questions also open up a dialog between the beta reader and yourself and that could bring better understanding and more dimensions to your book.

Here are some questions to ask beta readers to receive meaningful and constructive feedback and to know how to make your manuscript better. Click To Tweet

Of course, a good beta reader would anyway be explicit and descriptive in their feedback, but asking them specific questions would/might take it a step further.

Also, discuss about this Q&A feedback prior to them before sending your manuscript to avoid discrepancies.

Questions to ask beta readers

Here are some questions to ask beta readers to receive meaningful and constructive feedback.

These questions are based on the questionnaires I have received during the course of my beta reader journey and they are indicative only.

Opening

  • How interesting was the first chapter? Were you hooked or mildly interested?
  • At what point did you think “ah now the story begins”?
  • What were your expectation levels about the book based on the first few chapters?
  • Were you able to understand the setting (where and when) of the plot?

Plot

  • How predictable was the plot? Were you able to see where and how the story was moving along?
  • Was there a suspense/tension regarding the conflict?
  • Did you notice any foreshadowing for the third act?
  • Was there something in the plot that kept your attention from the main plot?
  • Did the climax work for you? Was it believable?
  • Were you confused about the story line or the time lines in the plot at any point?

Characters

  • Were the protagonists likeable and believable? What can be done to make them more likable?
  • Which character did you relate to the most?
  • Did you ever get confused in terms of who is who in the characters or their names?
  • Were there any characters that needed a better arc/development?
  • Who are your most and least favorite characters?
  • Which character did you want to see more of? Which side character are you curious about, after finishing the book?
  • What do you think of the relationship between the main characters?
  • What do you think of the relationship between the main character and the bad guy(s)?
  • Is there a character you wish didn’t exist?

Writing

  • Did the dialogue sound natural and keep up with the general pace of the book? Were there any conversations that looked forced and artificial?
  • At any point of the book, did you feel the storyline lag and you had to skip over? Did any part make you re-read for it to make sense?
  • Did you find yourself skimming pages? At which part did you put your book down/take a break?
  • Does the writing style match the genre? If not, how so?
  • Were able to “see” the action sequence in terms of ‘who did what’?
  • Did you notice any obvious, repeating spelling, grammatical, punctuation or capitalization errors?

Credibility & Sensitivity

  • Were there any apparent discrepancies or inconsistencies in time lines, places, character details, etc?
  • Was there something culturally incorrect or offensive to any particular section of readers? (question to be asked to the beta reader if they were from that marginal section)

General

  • Did any part of the book confuse/annoy/frustrate you? Which parts and why?
  • Did this book remind of you any other books you read? In what way?
  • Has the book been tagged under the correct genre? If not, why and what genre could be a better fit?
  • If you could add/delete one thing in the book/plot/characters, what would that be?

Non Fiction

  • Will the topic be interesting and useful, if you had no prior interest/knowledge about it?
  • Was the topic well researched and have enough information?
  • At any point, did the book stopped following a narrative pattern and overwhelm with an information dump? If yes, where?
  • Did the book get boring at any point? If so, which part(s)?
  • Did the book have any redundant/repetitive pointers?
  • Were you able to feel the enthusiasm towards the topic from the author’s writing?
  • Did the book provide helpful next steps in terms of action plans etc?
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Some tips before you send the questions

  • Use the list as a guideline and choose only questions that are relevant to your book and that will help your next draft
  • Keep the questions simple and do not ask them to quote examples for each pointers.
  • Do not overwhelm them with a huge questionnaire. Keep them few and it is better to give them the questions after they finish reading the book.

Final word

While it is a good practice to send a questionnaire to your beta reader, ensure that you need one. If you are still not sure what to ask, it is better to leave it to the beta reader to send a detailed report in their own template and style.

DO NOT FEEL PRESSURIZED TO SENDING QUESTIONS, for the sake of sending it. You are helping no one here.

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Let’s chat

Have you ever used a beta reading service and before? If you are a reviewer, can you think of any other questions that might help you decide if a book works for you or not? Let us talk.

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