Rosa Marchisella is the author of the gripping "Touch of Insanity" series and the bone-chilling novella "The Greatest of Books."
When looking for beta readers, I target honest and dependable people who enjoy the manuscript's genre. I also make sure they're familiar with both good writing techniques and important elements to the craft.
To make sure everyone is on the same page, I need to know exactly what I want from my beta readers. Then, I make sure that they know by providing them with a clear list.
Below is the basic letter I give my beta readers, which I tailor per project and person.
Dear [Beta Reader's Name];
Thank you for being part of my Beta Team! I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to help me make improvements to [Book Title]. Please, don’t worry about grammar, spelling, and punctuation issues; an editor is helping with those. The feedback I'm concerned about centers on continuity, character development, dialogue, flow, and completeness:
- Is the story interesting?
- Does it make sense?
- Any plot holes?
- Does the story flow?
- Is the continuity okay?
- Did I miss any important information or opportunities?
- Do you get a solid feel for the setting and people?
- Do the characters unfold well?
- Do any of the characters need more development?
- Is the pacing okay? Does it lag anywhere?
- Is anything clunky or awkward?
- Are there problem areas that need more attention?
- What worked for you? What didn't work for you?
- ... And, of course, anything else you feel I should know.
Specific concerns I have for this book are:
- [List feedback needed]
Please, be as specific as possible with your answers. Your honest comments will go a long way in helping this story be a success. I need your notes by [date]. I look forward to reading them and thank you, again.
Being clear about what I need from them, both in general and for the particular story, allows my beta readers to provide the best feedback possible.
I find that including a set date for them to submit their notes makes sure they stay focused and I can keep a tight schedule. I try to give about two weeks which should be plenty of time for them to get through the manuscript. And, I give myself about a week to implement any changes I need to make from their feedback before sending my manuscript to my editor.
Want to Know More About Beta Readers?
To learn more about how to find beta readers and what their duties are:
Beta Reader Checklist for Useful Feedback: Downloadable PDF from this article.
Originally Published Feb 24, 2017
© 2021 Rosa Marchisella