Hiring an editor is one, if not the most important part of the publishing process; but there is another part that’s just as important - one that doesn’t often make the list among top publishing steps. For Brooklyn Knight Enterprises, engaging a beta reader is a highly recommended step, which has made a critical difference for all of our authors. Perhaps you’re not sure what a beta reader is or aren’t convinced you really need one. Below is a short list of things to know when thinking about beta readers.
1. A beta reader is a test reader, someone who reads the unpublished work of an author to give honest feedback. Ideally, beta readers provide authentic opinions, which are free of biases that may come from reviews or other outside sources.
2. Beta readers are not editors. The former gives you subjective feedback from the point of view of someone who would actually read your book. The latter are hired to do a job and would not necessarily read your book once it’s on the shelf.
3. Beta readers shouldn’t be friends, family members or people who are going to tell you how amazing you are as a writer. Instead, you want readers who will give you the raw, honest truth about the quality and viability of your story.
4. Solicit the help of beta readers after engaging in a rigorous self-editing process. The last thing you want to do is give your beta reader a messy draft of your story. This will potentially impact the quality of the read.
5. In the BKE experience, there’s a difference between a high-quality beta reader and a beta reader. The former are
6. The advice on how many beta readers an author needs varies, but in the BKE experience, typically, three is sufficient.
7. Beta readers should be in the target audience of your book. Otherwise, you run the risk of getting feedback which may not be applicable to your specific story.
8. Typically, you don’t pay for beta readers. There are many social media groups dedicated to the service; however, paying for beta readers is not an uncommon practice. In fact, there are some benefits to paying a professional beta reader, such as increased likelihood that your work won’t be plagiarized (we’ve heard and seen horror stories)!
9. Discuss things the beta reader liked and disliked. Take their dislikes seriously. Remember, they represent the general reading public.
10. Analyze character development and character traits and habits that stood out the most.
11. Discuss story events that made sense to you awhile writing but don't make sense to the readers.
12. Ask the beta reader how likely they are to read another book by you. If the answer is not likely, find out why.
Remember, engaging beta readers doesn’t speak negatively about your skills as a writer. No one is above critique and having a beta reader can make or break your story. Engaging them shows that you are dedicated to your craft and value the opinions of those you wish to one day call fans.
If you need access to legitimate, high-quality beta readers, consider BKE's Beta Reading service.