Personal Posts

Things Beta Readers Should Know


I’ve already made one post on general beta reading for writers, and now this will be directed at beta readers.

  • If a writer requests a beta reader, that doesn’t mean they will send this first draft to everyone. Often times, I will send it to the first few, then make changes, and send that draft to the next group of beta readers. I want fresh eyes, always.
  • If a writer requests a beta reader, that doesn’t mean they will choose you. It happens, sometimes. Most of the time, it’s nothing personal. We’ve all had different experiences with beta readers, and we all have a certain things we look for in beta readers. If I think I’ve already found what I’m looking for, then I may not send a draft to some beta readers. Once again, it happens.
  • “I like it,” usually isn’t what I’m looking for. It’s nice to hear, but if that’s all you have to say, then it wasn’t worth my time. Sorry. If you want to say “I like it” then the best thing you could do is follow it with “because…” and explain why you like it. It lets us know what we did right.
  • Don’t be afraid to tell me you don’t like it. I’m a writer. I’ve been rejected more times than I care to admit. You telling me you don’t like my work isn’t going to hurt my feelings. If the writer can’t handle it, becomes defensive, and is just plain rude, then that’s their problem, not yours. Don’t beta read for them again.
  • The same goes for the “I don’t like it.” It’s okay if you don’t like it. That’s fine, but I’d like to know why. It might be something I can fix, and if not then it’s good to know why people may not like it. The more detail you can give, the better.
  • I don’t expect you to be an editor. If you wanna mark it up, great, but I don’t expect you to. Feel free to read it, then just tell me.
  • A writer should never give you the only copy of their manuscript. You shouldn’t have to feel obligated to read the manuscript, much less feel obligated to keep up with the only known copy of it. If I receive a paper copy, my first question will always be, “Is this the original?” If it is, I give it back and request a copy. I don’t want to be the person who loses it. Do you?
  • If you find that you just don’t have time, you don’t have to read it. You’re doing us a favor, but please let us know so we’re not just waiting around to hear back. It’s just common courtesy. If the writer wants to be rude, then don’t beta read for them again. Another lesson a writer should learn is that they won’t always receive feedback. It happens.
  • Don’t expect the writer to listen to everything you say like it’s gospel. You’re not perfect and neither is your feedback. It’ll be okay.

These are just general things you need to know if you want to be a beta reader. Writers can learn from this just as much as a beta reader can. Know what you should expect from each other, learn, and form literary relationships that can last a lifetime. Do you agree? Do you disagree? Let me know, and comment below!

Thanks for reading.

-Lissy

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5 thoughts on “Things Beta Readers Should Know”

  1. Yes! The first book I beta-read, I was afraid of writing anything which could be construed as negative. Then I re-read the author’s message, and reminded myself that she specifically didn’t want to be flattered, she wanted constructure critique. So that’s what I gave her, and she was really happy with it. I take care to be encouraging, of course, but there’s no point just going ‘yeah it’s WONDERFUL.’

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  2. i read so many interesting blog entries here in WordPress and i am both saddened and aggrieved at the amount of typos and spelling mistakes i find… often in the opening title and it puts me off reading any further. beta-reading is all important.
    before posting anything, i ask my friends to read it – just to have another pair of eyes pick through it- checking spelling, grammar (without compromising my style), checking for typos and missed words. it is really important. thank you for sharing this. some hints and tips i hadn’t thought of.

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