Beta readers are the quiet superheroes of today’s publishing. They are the volunteers who read our manuscripts to give a reader’s perspective, and show us the things we just can’t see for ourselves.
Maybe you’ve tried to get manuscript feedback in the past, but you’ve run into these common problems...
- “I can’t find the right people.”
- “They are too slow.”
- “They don’t give me anything useful.”
- “They are too nice.”
- “They hated my book and broke my heart.”
Multi-award-winning author Belinda Pollard knows how you feel. She has faced all these challenges and developed unique solutions, drawing from her work as a developmental editor over two decades.
This practical and highly-readable book will help you develop a customized feedback strategy for your manuscripts-—and become the writer you were born to be.
- “An invaluable book for every writer—indie or traditional. Great, thoughtful and inspiring advice.” Jodie Lane, Turning Points time travel adventure series
- “Essential reading for any author who wants to continue to grow.” Debbie Young,
- Sophie Sayers Village Mysteries
- “Undeniably useful and will serve both as a guide and mentor to authors looking for necessary feedback and support.” Molly Greene, Gen Delacourt Mysteries
- “If anyone wants to know about beta reading, Belinda’s blog is my go-to recommended resource... now this book is.” Sally Vince, Editor
Belinda Pollard is an award-winning Australian author, accredited book editor, publishing consultant, writing coach, speaker and blogger. Her editing portfolio includes books that have won or been shortlisted for significant awards or become classics in their niche, while her own writing prizes include a Varuna Fellowship. Her advocacy for writers and editors brings publishing and speaking invitations from around the world. betareadersuperhero.com
About the Author
Table of Contents
Part 1: The beauty of beta readers 1
Chapter 1. How I discovered beta readers 2
How my experiences shaped my beta reader strategy, and how my discoveries can help you.
How to get what you need from this book, as fast as possible.
The three pillars of my 3H Beta Reading strategy: Humility, Honesty and Heart.
What I think about rules.
Chapter 2. The basics 8
Definitions and descriptions.
Types of books beta readers can help with.
Do we need both beta readers and professional editors?
Chapter 3. The ideal beta reader 17
Demographics of the ideal beta reader.
Personality traits and relevant experience.
Reading and writing characteristics to look for.
How much publishing knowledge should a beta reader have?
Chapter 4. Where to find the right beta readers for you 29
How to network with other writers to find people who are a good match with your project and might enjoy helping you.
When to start looking.
Where to find the right people.
Part 2: Managing the beta reader process 41
Chapter 5. When to use beta readers 42
Where beta readers can add value in each phase of creating a book, compared with tasks a pro editor might do.
When to use or avoid beta readers, depending on your goals and level of experience.
Whether to engage your beta team all at once, or spread them out over the project timeline.
Chapter 6. How to approach potential beta readers 61
Attitudes that create an effective beta reading process, and ones that work against us.
Tips for making that initial request.
Chapter 7. How to brief your beta readers 69
Setting the tone.
Working out a schedule.
Formats to offer, and formats to ask for.
Asking for testimonials.
Chapter 8. Types of feedback to request 78
Common issues for fiction, memoir, and non-fiction.
How to ask questions in a way that helps your beta readers to give you what you need.
Chapter 9. How to respond to a beta report 90
Different reactions to beta reports, and attitudes that can help.
The importance of time and space.
Several techniques for weighing the results.
Part 3: How to become a better beta reader 105
Chapter 10. The mindset of an excellent beta reader 106
What is, and isn’t, included in the beta reading task.
Where to find writers you’d like to beta for.
3H Beta Reading—from the reader’s perspective.
Attitudes that help, and those that don’t.
Chapter 11. Making contact: what and how to ask 114
How to volunteer to be a beta reader, in a way that makes it easy for the writer to accept or decline your offer.
What to ask the writer so you can be as useful as possible in your feedback.
Chapter 12. Techniques for beta reading 122
Methods and techniques to help you read thoughtfully and record your responses.
What to look for.
The level of importance of different issues at various stages of the publishing process.
Chapter 13. Checklists and challenges 129
How to use checklists—and how not to use them.
Why fiction and memoir face similar issues.
Common challenges in fiction, memoir and non-fiction.
Chapter 14. Delivering your report 142
Tips for ways to structure a beta report so that it is most useful to the writer.
Ideas for how to present both positives and negatives so they are useful and encouraging.
Where to now? 153
About the Author 159
Also by Belinda Pollard 160