Writers: This Is What A Beta Reader, and Fellow Writer, Wants You To Know

Look, I write, you write. You read, I kinda read. You want to see how your writing stacks up…by having me beta read it.

Now here’s some advice, and I am NOT an expert, so expect some personal bias!


For one, I think it is very important to share polished work with beta readers. If there are more than…5 grammatical errors in your work, I start to wonder if you take your own work seriously. I’m sure you had some passion to make it in the first place…but why present it in a kinda sloppy way?

Two, don’t expect a lot of back and forth…at all. Real readers will not have you standing beside your book, ready to explain away anything confusing or off putting. The reader’s impression is final in my opinion. Whatever they decide is whatever they decide, despite your intentions or whatnot. Accordingly, it isn’t fair for me to take in any author followup comments, since a reader will probably never be able to see those comments in real life.

Three, establish some kind of baseline for the level of feedback given. I like to give lots of small comments throughout the doc, which takes longer, but that’s more or less how I read my own writing too. If I give you a page of notes and I get a paragraph back…man. C’mon.

Four, most beta readers like to swap work. And, they like to read a snippet of your work first. It is WAY easier to get someone to read 5k words with a swap than read 100k words with no swap.

Five, expect a lot of critical feedback. I personally have shared my writing with 5 different people. Despite revising or totally overhauling my writing each time, the following beta reader had more things they disliked. What’s the point of all this? Well, I guess just remember that you can’t make everyone happy. Feedback is endless. You have to decide how much of it to take in.

2 thoughts on “Writers: This Is What A Beta Reader, and Fellow Writer, Wants You To Know

  1. Y’know, that’s a really good way of putting it. I’m a firm believer in – if you have to explain something to make it understandable, then you missed your mark and you better do a rewrite to fix it. On the other hand, your style is your style and beta-readers should leave that to you. Grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, continuity – all the province of beta-readers. Pretty much anything else, I’d rather they didn’t joggle my elbow too much. As you allude to, you’ll never make everyone happy.

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    1. Yes. I personally try to make readers happy, but if you try to make every beta reader love your book…. You’ll be writing for decades probably, lol. Can’t make everyone happy, so find a balance or mix between the author’s ideas and the readers’ feedback. Thanks for commenting!

      Like

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