On Beta Reading

If you are looking to improve your writing, having beta readers and critique partners giving feedback on your work is an important part of that. Finding people, however, can be the most difficult part.

How to find Critique Partners/Beta Readers

  • Twitter
    • I resisted joining Twitter for a long time, but once I did I realized I was missing out on the wonderful writing community on there. I’ve met some great people on there who are willing to beta read. Just be prepared to reciprocate!
  • Writers Groups
    • You can find a writers group in your area! I’ve had great success with several groups, but sometimes it can take some searching to find one where you feel like you fit. Meetup.com and your local libraries are good places to start searching for groups!
  • Websites
    • There are also websites where people can sign up to be beta readers. I volunteer my time on a website called Readers for Writers and people can contact the volunteers on the page to have them read parts of their work.

So you’ve found a beta reader. What now?

  • While not necessary, giving your beta reader an idea of what you’re looking for in their critique can be helpful.
    • Are you looking for help with a difficult plot line? On developing your character? If you have something specific, let them know!
  • Find a reader whose writing skills are equal to or above your own.
    • This might seem obvious, but you’ll learn more from a person with more experience in the craft than you.
  • Know that beta readers are not editors.
    • The point of a beta reader is to find the weaknesses in your story and give feedback on how to improve it. It’s not their job to make sure your grammar, spelling, and punctuation are correct.
  • Find people unrelated to you to read your writing.
    • Family and friends are often not the best people to ask to critique your work. It’s extremely rare that they will give the feedback necessary to improve because they often don’t want to risk hurting your feelings.
  • Remember that their feedback isn’t personal.
    • Writing is personal and our work can feel like our children. It’s important to remember that you asked your beta reader for help and it’s a waste of everyone’s time if you dismiss their comments because they’re difficult to hear without at least considering them.
  • Find more than one person to read your work.
    • If everyone is telling that something doesn’t work, you should listen to them.
  • That being said, you, the author, have the final say.
    • After carefully considering what your beta readers have said, you don’t need to make every change they suggest. If you feel strongly about something, you aren’t obligated to change it.

An important thing to remember when finding beta readers is that the writing community is very small. It’s important to be polite and kind because people tend to remember those who are not. But go out, join some writing communities, and have fun.

Happy writing!