While my husband has read my story (twice), he is not beta reader material – nor is anyone who really doesn’t advertise as they are. I’ve found my beta readers through Goodreads, specifically the ‘paid’ services forum. But as I’m only getting five beta readers (yes I decided!), and there were more than five available, I had to be specific with the beta reader credentials.
While I’m still looking for a couple more beta readers, here is a list of what I consider when sifting through the forums:
- Have a background related to writing, editing, publishing, etc. English majors, publication work history, editing skills, etc. were all considered when I hired my beta reader. This gives me confidence that the reader knows the craft and what to look for in a good book. (Please note that I do not expect a beta reader to be an editor, but in my experience they will note consistent grammar mistakes and minor fixes.)
- Have a website. Having a website was a ‘huge’ factor for me in choosing beta readers. This way I get to know more about them, their background, their reading preferences, their requirements…all of this leads to an informed decision, to let me know if the reader really is a good fit for my novel. Even if just a Facebook page, it’s something.
- Have testimonials. While not as critical as the first two, to me testimonials are like references. Most beta readers were happy to list their works and feedback on their websites.
- List their real name. I noticed during my search that there are services out there that seem to be all-in-one – beta reading, editing, cover art, marketing, etc. While I don’t plan on using this service and likely have nothing against it, for me it feels better if I can contact someone by their name rather than their organization.
- Good turn-around time. Most beta readers will list this.
So how did all this vetting turn out when I found my first beta reader?
Overall, the feedback I received from my first beta reader was fantastic. She made note of a few things I wasn’t sure about (but wanted honest feedback before I changed them), and provided examples that were both good and needed revising. There was a comment on nearly every page and an impressive overall assessment. The feedback was very thorough and given with the skill of a professional.
In other words, I’m glad I took my time in finding a skilled beta reader rather than just anyone. I will continue to do this moving forward.
I will, in the future, be listing my beta readers and their contact information on my site.