Recruiting beta readers for your book is an important stepping stone to getting published.
When you send in your completed manuscript to an agent, you’re going to want the most polished, completed version of your story. It’s got to be in its best condition yet — to the point where it’s probably seen several versions.
What Is a Beta Reader?
A beta reader is a person you recruit to read your completed story to give you full feedback. They might be able to help point out any grammatical errors, inconsistencies, or plot holes that you otherwise have missed.
Because they help close the gap in the editing process, beta readers are considered the unsung heroes of self- and traditional publishing.
Where Do I Find a Beta Reader?
You can recruit anybody to be a beta reader, but it’s important to keep in mind that friends, family, and inexperienced readers might not be able to give you the full, blunt feedback you’re looking for.
A few places you can find a beta reader for your manuscript:
Writer’s workshops, seminars, and groups
Twitter (Check out the #WritingCommunity)
Search “manuscript critique” on LinkedIn or Google
Is My Book Ready for Beta Readers?
If this is the first time you’ve ever heard of a manuscript critic, then you might not know when you need one.
Step One: First Draft
Publishing experts suggest you begin searching for beta readers on your first draft. You don’t necessarily have to start recruiting, but it’s good to get a general idea of the type of readers you’re looking for.
If you are new to writing or new to a genre, then you might want to seek out beta readers for the early stages of your manuscript. In these cases, you’ll want experienced writers, readers, and editors in that specific genre. This is just to help keep you on the right track in a specific genre.
Step Two: Rewriting
Although it would be an ideal world, nobody is ever done with their manuscript after just one draft. But even after your second draft, you might want to wait on the beta readers — unless you’re really, really stumped.
I’ve been in instances where I’ve finished a draft of my book and didn’t quite feel that… relief. I felt like the story was missing something, but my energy was shot from spending so much time and effort in just writing it. I didn’t know where to start when it came to rewriting, so recruiting a beta reader for some feedback would have been ideal in that situation.
Step Three: When You Think It’s Finished
When you know it’s time, it’s time.
Whether it’s the third draft or the seventh, you’ll know when you begin feeling good and confident about your book. I know at this point you’ll be tempted to send it out, but it’s actually time for… beta readers!
When your book is out in the hands of the manuscript critics, it’s time to take a break. Try to distance yourself from the book and pretend it doesn’t exist — just for that short while. You need to clear your head and get ready for fresh eyes when the book comes back into your hands.
Step Four: Final Draft
When you get your edits back, take them with open arms.
There may be some drastic changes. You might need to rewrite a lot. You might even doubt yourself as a writer.
But here’s the thing: it’s all part of the process.
You want the best possible version out there, right?
This is how you do it.
Rewrite, edit, rewrite, edit.
Best of luck, writers!
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