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Become a Beta Reader!
What is a beta reader? A beta reader analyzes a book manuscript very early in the publishing cycle, usually just after the author has finished the book and a couple of rounds of self-edits. A beta reader most importantly looks at a book as a reader (not an editor or a marketer)…is this book a good read? Am I enjoying it? Do I care about the hero and heroine? Can I hardly wait for the next thing to happen? Why or why not? If editors suggest major rewrites, an author may seek an additional round of beta reading to see what readers think of the changes.
As a professional beta reader of romance myself, I can tell you the rewards of being one! Not only do I get to read brand-spanking new books before they’re published, I feel like I am part of the team who helps bring a work to the public…and it is an awesome feeling. I’ve even gotten a nod in an acknowledgement in a book!
It is in all beta readers’ best interest to display a measure of professionalism, whether we are paid or not. To me, that means giving feedback in a timely manner, providing some depth and substance in your analysis, and being compassionate yet accurate in your feedback.
I can share with you an amazing resource that will help you on your journey to becoming a beta reader. My friend Dedrie Marie has a wonderful series all about beta reading called How to Become a Successful Beta Reader. The first book, focused on teaching the fundamentals of fiction, is chock full of advice and information, including conventions of different genres and elements of fiction. If that whets your appetite for beta reading, the second book of the series gives more detail about crafting feedback. The final book in the series tells you how to go professional. If you have Kindle Unlimited, you can get the entire three-book set as a part of your subscription. I highly recommend Dedrie’s books. I decided to go professional with my beta readings because of her books!
Once you’ve read at least the first book of Dedrie’s series, practice beta analysis. Analyze books you’ve already read–including books you didn’t particularly like. The latter will give you great practice working on constructive criticism! You may find, however, that well-edited published books don’t give you enough practice seeing the elements of fiction–especially where they may go wrong. I strongly recommend honing your craft by reading stories on Fanfiction.net. While there is some fantastic writing here, there are a lot of stories that show more enthusiasm than writing skill.
After you’ve practiced a little–and find you like it–you can offer your services on beta reading groups on Goodreads, like the Beta Reader Group.
If you’re serious about beta reading, don’t hesitate to contact me for samples of my beta reading analyses or to ask questions about the process. The quality of published books is furthered by us helping each other and up-and-coming and established authors.
Book 1 Book 2 Book 3