Beta readers are invaluable to the revision process, but how do you find one that will help you uplevel your manuscript from good to great?
Or maybe you’ve circulated your manuscript to family and friends who just say, “Yea, it was good.” without any deep constructive criticism or wanting to discuss the characters, themes, or plot in-depth?
The problem with having personal friends/family as beta readers is twofold*:
- Unless they are writers/editors themselves, they can’t offer the wide critique you’re looking for, and;
- They love you unconditionally and will support you even if what you’ve written is a pile of word trash (it isn’t).
*Obviously if you have a friend/family member who is willing to take the time to critique your work and is excited about your manuscript’s genre, they are a gem!
Here are five great ways to find beta readers who will provide an honest critique of your work that will help take it to the next level:
This isn’t a sponsored post, but I can’t say enough about FIVERR. I’ve been able to connect with so many talented editors and readers through this site. Also, since you are working with them as a professional relationship, you both agree and stick to a deadline (typically 4-15 days). Nothing is up in the air.
The downside is that valuable beta-reader feedback comes at a cost. The average I’ve found is $80-$150 for a 95,000-word manuscript.
That said, the value I’ve received has far outweighed the price in my opinion.
Their beta-reader reports are chock full of great ideas, pointing out plot holes, pacing issues, and everything in-between. As a new writer, my grammar has been bastardized by working in the corporate world. My betas have given me tips on how to sharpen my grammar and even be aware of words I often overuse.
They’ve also been my greatest cheerleaders with real-time DMs as they process my MS with lots of, “I just finished and loved it–couldn’t put it down all day. Writing the report now!” and asking when the next book in my series will be ready for them to beta. 😳
2. Beta Reader Facebook Groups
Search “Beta Reader” or “Writing critique partner” in Facebook groups to find a slew of awesome groups to join. The majority of these groups are free, meaning either you find a beta reader gratis or you provide beta reading gratis for the sake of helping out fellow writers.
Be sure to read and abide by ALL the rules in the groups to remain compliant.
3. Local Writing Groups/Writing Critique Partners
Search locally for a creative writing group that can help with beta reading, or in my case, serendipitously meet the best writing critique partner in the world. His name is Matt, and you can find his incredibly talented work here (he is working on an amazing novel debut that I CANNOT wait for the world to see!).
Other social clubs like The Wing have creative writing groups, so if you’re part of one, it’s a great place to find like-minded writers eager to read your words!
Reedsy is like FIVERR, but only for writing gigs. And the people offering gigs are beyond legit. They’ve edited several best sellers in their portfolio. You can search by genre and/or expertise and have several editors/beta readers bid on your gig. Again, it is not cheap, but here you’re paying for very highly qualified professionals to review your work. I’ve used Reedsy myself, but only for the final polish on my MS and querying materials.
Do not underestimate the power of the local librarian! Whether you find them through friends, or have a librarian in your town that you see often–they can be invaluable beta readers! I’ve had two librarians review my upcoming novel and they’re able to tell me how my MS reads compared to the mass and as an average reader.
What is the most invaluable thing a beta reader has helped you with your writing or your manuscript?