Rosa Marchisella is the author of the gripping "Touch of Insanity" series and the bone-chilling novella "The Greatest of Books."
My latest book is currently in the hands of a wonderful team of beta readers. I’m thrilled. Even though they’re still reading, I’ve already received some very constructive feedback.
Not sure what a beta reader is? Simply put, a beta reader the author’s extra set of eyes. They read the author's manuscript to highlight areas that need improvement and give (gently) honest feedback to weed out story issues before it goes to an editor. A good beta reader is invaluable and much coveted.
In fact, I received this question from a fellow author:
May I ask how you got a team of beta readers? Because when I tried to get people to read my book before it was published no one was interested!
Wow. That is a great question!
The short answer is:
I do my homework and am picky about who I ask.
The long answer:
I try to approach people I know have beta read in the past, are interested in the genre of my book, have a good eye for detail, and have solid feedback (to myself or others) in the past.
5 people agreed to beta read my current book. Here is how I chose each one . . .
Beta Reader 1
his lady actually found me. She’d read a review I was under attack for writing, loved how honest and fair I’d been, and tracked me down on Facebook to ask if I would review her fantasy novel. I agreed, but couldn’t make it through the book.
Instead of writing a review, I asked if I could just give her suggestions on improvements. She agreed. She made the changes. She got picked up by a publisher, released the sequel and has gone on to have a prolific career in writing. (I’m not taking credit for any of that, btw. She just rocks.)
We kept in touch. When I see a snippet or article she’s written, I read it and comment. She’s improved. A lot. She’s serious and dedicated, so I continue to support her. And, she also freelances as an editor. So, when it came time to assemble beta readers, I asked if she’d be interested. She said, “Yes.”
Beta Reader 2
Amusingly enough, I found this lady exactly the same way Beta Reader 1 found me! She was being attacked by another author for the honest review she wrote on GoodReads in exchange for an ARC.
Curious, I read the review. It was actually a very fair review, praising the author's writing skill, but pointing out there were issues with the story that didn't sit well with her. She didn't finish reading, so she marked it DNF (Did Not Finish) to make sure it wouldn't hurt the author's rating. I sent her a message, apologizing on behalf of authors who aren't jerks, and told her that I really liked how honest and fair she'd been.
Since I knew from her GoodReads profile that she liked stories similar to my current book, I asked if she'd be interested in beta reading it and gave a her brief description. She agreed.
Beta Reader 3
About a year ago, a lady in one of the Facebook writing groups I’m part of asked if someone could do some artwork for her. I was interested in what she wanted done and offered my services. I really liked her honesty in comments and noticed she always had great suggestions.
Instead of cash payment, I asked if she'd be interested in beta reading for me. I gave her a brief description of my current book. She liked the story idea and had read some of my other writing, so she felt confident that she'd enjoy this and agreed.
Beta Reader 4
This one, I can thank Beta Reader 1 for. She’d talked me up to this gentleman and I apparently made a good impression in the Facebook groups we were part of. We chatted back and forth on Facebook for months.
When he found out I was almost ready to hand off my current book to beta readers, he expressed an interest in reading it. From our conversations, I knew he was very honest about his opinions and he had a great eye for detail.
Even though the story is aimed for Young Adult female readers, I thought a male opinion would be beneficial. I asked if he'd go one further and beta read it for me. He said yes and offered some amazingly helpful insights.
Beta Reader 5
I met this lady through – you guessed it - a Facebook writing group. She sent me a friend request after we'd exchanged comments in the group. I had a favourable opinion of her; plainspoken and insightful. I accepted though we never actually chatted after that ... until I saw a status update from her one night as I was about to shut down my computer for the night.
She seemed to be in distress and I was worried that she was suicidal. Facebook had just implemented its suicide prevention feature, which was totally useless. So, I sent her a message which led to a conversation that lasted several hours (until I felt satisfied that she wasn’t going to do anything harmful to herself).
Being writers, we naturally talked about books and writing. I told her a bit about my current book and it was apparently up her alley of interest. She told me that she did beta reading, critiques, and reviews. I asked if she'd like to beta read it for me and she said, “yes.”
And, there you have it: My amazing beta team ♥
Finding quality beta readers is a long process:
- I observe the feedback a person gives to others and what they contribute to conversations in groups.
- I build a sincere rapport with them. (Note the word sincere. I care about these people and they care about me.)
- I find out if beta reading is something they're interested in and what genres they prefer.
- When I ask them to beta read, I give them just enough detail about the story to hook them, but not enough to ruin the fun.
Some people I asked were swamped with other projects or felt the story was not quite to their interests. No problem! I asked enough people that a couple of "no's" still left me with a fair size group for feedback. Plus if anyone can’t follow through, I won't be stranded for feedback.
Best of luck with your own hunt!
Want to Know More About Beta Readers?
To learn more about what beta readers do and what guidelines I give my beta readers:
Originally Published: Oct 10, 2016
© 2021 Rosa Marchisella