Types of Beta Readers
A Beta Reader is someone who evaluates your story. Long answer; they give you feedback on your story. They are like beta testers for software, looking for bugs and problems. A good beta reader points out holes in your plot, point of view problems, and chronology problems. They point out confusing areas and let you know if you’re describing things too much.
Today I’m covering the different types of Beta Readers, so you can figure out what you need for your book.
Plot, Flow, and Consistency Reader
This Beta Reader is concerned with the following:
Does your plot make sense?
Are there any holes in your plot? Where are the problem points?
Do your characters fit the plot? Where do they cause problems?
Does the story grab your attention? Where does it fail at this?
What This Beta Reader Doesn’t Do:
Spelling and Grammar
Characters and Wording
Does everything fit in the story? Is something out of place?
Do you like the characters and are they interesting?
How is the wording? Are any words or phrases overused? Where did you see them?
Does the story keep your attention? Where does it lose your attention?
Punctuation, showing not telling, point of view problems.
The Go-To Beta Reader
This Beta Reader is someone you always return to again and again. You value their comments and advice about your work. The one who happily reads your work again after you’ve made changes to improve the book. They are familiar with your style of writing and quickly spot when something isn’t working or could be improved. This Beta Reader is a treasure and should be treated as such.
Here’s another system when dealing with Beta Readers to Consider:
Surveys for Beta Readers
Characters: The characters: Are they believable? Is more information or less information needed about them? Do they fit into the plot of the story?
The Setting: Does the setting fit the characters and plot? Should it be placed somewhere else or should more information be added to bring the area to life for the reader?
The Final Conflict of the Story: Has the main plot been resolved? Is the final confrontation between the protagonist and the antagonist satisfying? Is it believable where the characters and plot are concerned?
The End: How do you like the overall ending? Were all plots and conflicts resolved satisfactorily? If not, what should be changed?
Other Tips Concerning Beta Readers
Writers World has several groups associated with it on FB. One of them is called Writers World Green Room; this room is for discussing self-publishing. There was a discussion at one point concerning beta readers and a number of members posted some very interesting tips and comments.
They don’t ask their beta readers to edit their story, they are looking for feedback. Beta readers comment on the plot, the characters, if they got lost in reading the story, and the message you are trying to get across. Did they like the story overall, should something be cut or added to to make things clearer? Is there too much detailed descriptions or not enough descriptions? Is the timeline linear or is there too much jumping around? What slowed the reading down? Did they feel a connection with the characters and their conflicts and resolutions?
How was the dialogue? Did it move the story along? Was it believable? What did they like or dislike about the story? Was it easy to keep track of who said what? What worked well in the story?
Answers from the beta readers to the above questions will help you improve the story, adding the polish it needs so others will enjoy the book.
Before you send a beta reader your book, ask them about their experience as a beta reader. If they are willing to tell you who they beta read for, you should contact those authors. You don’t want a beta reader who only says they liked or disliked the story without explaining why.
Phil Harrison, Amanda M Suver Justice, and Colleen Aune Moore gave valuable advice concerning beta readers. Thank you for your posts in WW Green Room!
When you finally publish your book, make sure you acknowledge your Beta Readers by name. Thank them for the wonderful work they did. Give them a complimentary copy of the eBook, or if you have some extra cash, get a few Print on Demand books, sign them and send them to the beta readers as a thank you.
May the words ever flow!