Hours consumed in writing, rewriting, editing, re-editing, highlighting, tearing pages out, pulling hair, and enough coffee beans to grow your own field. The manuscript has reached the point where no errors or words alterations can be made. That inevitable question rises to the front of your mind: What do I do next? How should I get a “Beta” reader?
1. Contact potential Beta Readers
My readers are a mix of other writers, readers, and movie watchers. But they are all people I trust to give me honest feedback.
If you give your work to someone who loves all you do, you will end up with more ego than workable content. Also, please be sure to ask before you hand someone your story to read.
2. Help the Beta Readers
There is a chance your Beta Readers are also first timers. The whole concept of it is new to them. If you simply say: “Tell me what you think of this,” or “write a review about this story thing;” they will often give you a blank stare and a stammering of words that show their confusion. Give them a tool to help them respond. This could be a series of questions, fill in the blanks, or a rating scale. I found a great resource from Jami Gold:
3. Set a Deadline
One of my Beta Readers told me that he needed a deadline to have the worksheet completed. Since it is for a short story, I figured a two week limit would suffice (allowing more if needed). If you are having them review a novel, I would suggest a month or more. Perhaps even shortening it to a chapter review each week.
4. Reward the Beta Readers
Most authors will provide their Beta Readers with a free copy of the manuscript once it is published. Monetary gifts can also be given or other items you may have with your book. I believe one of the best is discussing their review over lunch; the author paying, of course.
After all is said and the worksheets done, get back to work! The manuscript is on the brink of being published. Go find that publisher or agent who sees the potential in you and become the famous author you dreamed of… or get a bunch of rejection letters until you grind your way to being a published author. Who knows what may happen?
If you are looking for a beta reader, I would be happy to help. Send me an email or post in the comments if you'd like my services and I will follow-up with you (depending on the season of course).