My Experience As A Beta Reader

Are you in the market for a Beta Reader? Let’s discuss terms.

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Good morning! When a writer and new author asked me to be a beta reader for her memoir recently, first of all I was honored and second of all, I wondered what the heck had I gotten myself into for agreeing to do such an important task.

Needless to say, the experience was a win/win for both parties. A Beta Reader is a person who brings a clear set of eyes to the manuscript to look for typos, grammatical errors,  confusion, cohesive mishaps and overall reader likability , before the author sends it off to an editor for final proofing, or places it in the hands of a publisher.

My experience led me to read a great slice of authentic storytelling, offer my unbiased opinion and help out a colleague who needed an honest evaluation of her memoir.

As a book reviewer with over a decade of writing reviews under my belt, I didn’t feel like l was heading for uncharted waters, however, the temptation to avoid book reviewer “critique” mode was hard to suppress. Luckily for me, the author didn’t chastise me for suggesting areas where she might want to tweak a phrase or two:)

Anyone can read a finished manuscript to give honest feedback to its author. Your family members and friends might not be your best choices as they most likely wouldn’t want to hurt your feelings. However, other writers, colleagues and people from your online connections would make good beta readers. Becoming a Beta Reader can also be a lucrative career move for the savvy freelance writer.

thbaby read  What are your thoughts on beta readers and would you recommend this route for authors with completed manuscripts, before publication? If you have served in this capacity, feel free to share your experiences with us.

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15 thoughts on “My Experience As A Beta Reader”

  1. I think it a great idea and only wish that I had known about beta readers when in the process of revising my memoir. You colleague is very fortunate to your extra set of perceptive eyes.

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  2. As a writer of an unpublished book, I can attest to the benefits of a good beta reader. Beta readers can see things the writer can’t see because they’re reading it with fresh eyes and they do not, personally, know the writer. (Family members and friends generally do not make good beta readers.) Many people shy away from beta reading because they think the writer wants their work edited. However, beta reading is more like pre-reading (pre-reviewing) the book to see if the story flows–and if it doesn’t, to suggest changes so that it does flow (is readable). A good time to have your book read by a beta reader is after your book has gone through many drafts, but before it goes to the copy editor. The secret to having a succesful experience with beta readers is to find readers in your target audience. I used beta readers for my upcoming book and found their input invaluable! They pointed out the weak areas and gave me some insight as to how my book may be received after it’s published. (Beta reading can also be an opportunity to hone your book review skills, if you aspire to be a book reviewer.)

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  3. Great post, Clara. Over the last five years of writing my memoir, I had many beta readers. My feeling is that beta readers are invaluable–but there are things I wish I’d known early on as an insecure newbie to publishing. First, it is very easy for beta readers to start out catching grammar, sentence structure mistakes, and then (in my case) eventually I’m seeing notes like, “I think THIS (four chapters in) should be the beginning).” or “I think you should cut this out–might be too graphic for the reader.”
    I think I spent an extra two years rewriting and then putting back in . . . Finally, after I knew I was finished for good, telling the story the way I wanted–because, after all, it was my story–I chose five beta readers who were not close friends, who didn’t know my story, and who were writers themselves. I made the decision beforehand that I would only consider “revision” for things brought up by at least three of them. It worked!
    Now my book has beautiful endorsements and I feel confident.
    Thanks for this post today, Clara!

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      1. Thanks so much, Lynette. I knew from the beginning that photo of my stepfather and me would have to be on the cover–It took until I was ready to see it up close and know I’d have to keep looking at it before I could actually publish. I can’t wait to see your book out there, too. I think we are near the same time schedule (I’m Sept), aren’t we? Beta readers can be worth their weight in gold if you find just the right ones.

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      2. I admire your courage, Mandy. You are a survivor whose book cover should only serve to remind you of all those your story will help recover from being a victim. Congratulations, you did that!

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