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5 Tips for Working with Beta Readers

Self-publishing authors can’t be experts in everything and often benefit from using the expertise of others. One of the resources that most self-publishing authors should use are beta readers.

It is important to understand how beta readers are different from other readers and editors.

A beta reader reading a digital copy of a self-publishing author’s novel

Editors are paid to give feedback on a book. Their feedback can include anything from plot issues to word choices and punctuation. Critique groups help authors by analyzing specific pieces of work and offering feedback. Alpha readers read the first draft to identify big-picture issues. ARC readers read advanced reader copies of books that are completed and ready for publication. ARC readers are usually enlisted to spread the word about a new book and to post reviews about the book. Beta readers read the draft the author thinks is ready to take to the book printers before they do. Their job is to see any issues the self-publishing might have missed in their final draft. These are usually things like pacing, politically incorrect language, and inconsistencies. Here are 5 tips for working with Beta readers.

1. Genre

Self-publishing authors should choose their beta readers carefully. Beta readers should be familiar with the genre of the book the self-publishing author has written. A romance reader can’t be expected to give useful critiques on a thriller novel and visa-versa.

Selecting beta readers with experience in the genre shows that the self-publishing author is aware of how important genre expectations are. Beta readers with a core knowledge of the genre can make sure those expectations are met by the manuscript.

2. Pleasure Reader

Beta readers should be avid readers. While editors and other writers can provide valuable feedback to self-publishing authors, the beta readers should be people who pleasure read. The point of a beta reader is to give feedback to the self-publishing author from a typical reader’s perspective. Beta readers who are editors and writers sometimes fail to offer the necessary unique reader perspective on a work.

3. Be Specific

Self-publishing authors should ask beta readers for specific feedback and point out areas of concern. New beta readers may not be sure what the author is looking for and so may feel unsure of what feedback to give. Similarly, this allows them to focus on areas of weakness the self-publishing author has identified.

4. Trust

Self-publishing authors need to be careful of who they allow to beta read for them. There are many excellent beta readers in the world but there are a few dishonest ones as well. Ideally, self-publishing authors should choose beta readers from people they know in real life and are sure they can trust.

If it isn’t possible to fully vet a beta reader, the author should consider giving the beta reader a paper copy to read instead of a digital one. Working on paper helps protect against theft.

5. Quantity

Ideally, a self-publishing author should have several beta readers to get opinions from. One or two beta readers aren’t enough to get adequate feedback while a dozen beta readers create too much data for the author to sift through and can prove an unnecessary burden.

Self-publishing authors don’t have to do it all alone. It takes a village when self-publishing a book. Let InstantPublisher be part of that village. We offer custom book covers, digital printing services, and we can help self-publishing authors with their book manuscript format as well. Visit our website today to see how our book publishing services can make your authorial dreams come true.

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