I’m getting ready to publish my first novel and it definitely wouldn’t be the story it is today without the help of my amazing beta readers! Beta readers are usually avid readers that are willing to take the time and effort to give you constructive feedback on your story. They can be fellow writers, have a special expertise, or just enjoy the genre you write.
Enlisting the help of beta readers is the next step after you’ve finished self-editing your book. Their feedback can make your novel even better before you get a professional editor involved which, depending on how your editor charges, might mean some cost savings to you. The recommended number of beta readers varies depending on who you ask. I was hoping for three and had five amazing beta readers for Murder Audit.
I was lucky to have some outstanding mentors guiding me on my first novel writing adventure so I was able to plan what I wanted my beta readers to look for. I highly recommend preparing some questions for your beta readers ahead of time in order to get the most out of working with them.
I recently enjoyed a free webinar from Bublish, the ebook author discovery and promotion platform, where they recommended the following key questions to ask your beta readers.
Do you find yourself skipping pages?
Are you confused at any point in the story?
Do you know what genre you’re reading?
Is the end satisfying?
How do you relate to the characters?
When I worked with my beta readers for Murder Audit, I was mostly concerned about the plot dragging and my characters being dull. I also asked specific questions about the plot because I wanted it to be believable. Three out of my five beta readers mentioned many of the same things which was a big clue that I needed to rework those parts of my novel.
Working with beta readers is a valuable step in the novel writing process and can help aid the self-editing process and prepare your novel for professional editing. How you choose your beta readers and the number you use is completely up to you. This can be tricky because you may get one or two people that have good intentions but just never follow through on reading your book.
I highly recommend giving your beta readers plenty of time to read your novel and checking in with them during the process. Deadlines are extremely important, especially if you have a publishing date in mind. Ask your beta readers lots of questions, like those above and anything else you can think of that will make your novel even better.
It’s not always easy accepting feedback but remember it will only make your story better if you choose to accept it. You certainly don’t have to use all the feedback you receive. Take what resonates and ignore the rest or use it to have further discussions with the rest of your beta readers. Remember to keep an open mind and enjoy the process.