Author Journey

How to Prepare for Beta Readers

I have finally hit the home stretch with editing my epic fantasy novel!

It’s an incredible feeling and also a scary one. This whole getting published process is totally new to me, so I am taking everything step by step, trying to absorb what I need to in order to make my dream happen.

Now that this part is crossed off my list, I am getting ready to ship off my book for beta reading. This is… nerve-wracking to say the least. As much as I want to run through my novel one more time before recruiting some amazing readers, I know that it would be a waste if I was ignoring important flaws in my story that they would surely help me point out.

So, how am I preparing for beta readers?

Cutting Down My Novel

Since my draft is 70 chapters and over 500 pages long, I am going to divi it up into 4 parts instead of handing over my entire manuscript. Though I have been told to just send the whole kit and kaboodle, I feel that the length might be a bit overwhelming for the reader. It will also allow me to compare comments in a more organized fashion. Instead of sifting through 500 pages, I will only be sifting through a quarter of that per section, making it a lot easier for me to keep track of what I need to review.

Plus, dividing up my book will allow me to work on edits BEFORE my beta’s have completed the novel. I am not a very patient person when it comes to people critiquing my work. If someone says this and that needs to be changed, I want to change it ASAP.

Asking For 2 Degrees of Review

I got a great suggestion from one of my fellow mom authors that you should ask your beta’s to review grammatical errors + story/character development separately. Sometimes you can get so into the story that grammatical errors pass you by and vice versa. Giving readers one thing to focus on per readthrough is a great way to avoid that and get the best out of your betas.

I’m still not sure if I am going to ask for two read-throughs or just ask to label comments for the 2 separate tiers… still hashing that one out.

Strangers are Great, but Trust is Better

One of the biggest takeaways from beta reading research is you want to make sure you are sending your novel to people your TRUST will give you the best review possible. I’m all for nice uplifting and reassuring feedback, but you want to make sure you are not wasting your time with readers who only focus on the positive. This process is to help you develop and write the best possible version of your work, so whip-crackers are a MUST.

You can do this by being selective about who you choose to read your book; ask some basic questions on what they usually gravitate towards as far as novels go. It doesn’t have to be an advanced screening process, truthfully following your gut is the best way to determine who really will give you the best, most honest feedback possible.

I am both excited and scared to hand over something I’ve worked on for 6 years to have it poked and prodded for feedback BUT it’s all part of the process.

If you have had experience preparing a draft for betas, what are some of your best advice on how to organize and prepare?

May Sol’s Light Shine Within You –

1 thought on “How to Prepare for Beta Readers”

  1. “IF” I’m given the opportunity to beta read, then I’ll most certainly do my best. I do want to help in any way I can and hope I can provide relevant/useful feedback – BUT, the question is – do I possess the ability to do so? If you don’t select me, I understand and I won’t take personal offense to it. This is your baby, after all, and deserves the best eyes on it.

    Reading the bit where you said you want grammatical errors + story/character development separately – it’s funny you suggest that. Why? Well, remember that short story you had me read? I was only able to read it for the content – for the story/character development aspect of it. My wife though (I didn’t really tell you) I gave it for her to read…she said the grammatical errors stood out so much that she couldn’t get past them to enjoy any of the content.

    I found that interesting because I honestly didn’t see these errors – I totally overlooked them all (somehow) and enjoyed the story for what it is, whereas she CAN’T enjoy a story if there are too many superficial errors. I reminded her it was a draft and she totally accepted that. Nevertheless, she couldn’t read it until they were fixed. Sorry, I didn’t mention that sooner…I really should have.

    As a trial, last year sometime, I handed over 4 chapters to beta readers. I had never done that before so it was an entirely new experience for me. In the end, out of like 10 people, 3 of them were highly useful, 2 were WAY too critical and the rest weren’t helpful at all (meaning, all they said was “it was good”). I’m glad I did it back then, so I know who NOT to ask next time lol.

    Anyway, sorry for my essay. Your blog is insightful as always 🙂


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