What does a beta reader do?
I’m glad you asked! Beta readers are what authors call their readers before their book is officially published. These people read the book before it goes to print and give feedback on what’s missing, what needs editing, what isn’t clear or what doesn’t make sense. As an author, this is invaluable information, and because friends and family may not want to hurt your feelings, they won’t tell you what they don’t like about your story. Paid beta readers provide constructive criticism that helps authors write better books while also identifying inconsistencies in the plot line or errors in grammar.
Paid Beta Reading Services Are Just Different
Paid readers do what free readers don’t. They read the book and go through it thoroughly, looking for things that may need changing or fixing to make a better story. Essentially, they accept that they are being paid to find the things that you have glossed over the millionth time. It’s so easy to overlook small (or huge) issues in our personal writings. This manuscript is, in many ways, your baby and you love it dearly. No one wants to see flaws in extensions of themselves, but it’s pivotal to improving.
Friends and family can get caught up in watching out for your feelings rather than what would be best for the final product. In other words, they won’t tell you what’s wrong with your novel because they either are more concerned with your mutual relationship, or they may not be the reader base you’re looking for.
Many times, I’ve had aspiring authors bring me manuscripts that told me that it was “pretty much done” and just wanted one more pair of eyes, to which I identified huge issues that had been glossed over. My favorite example is a one armed man clasping his hands near the end of the book.
What does a beta reader do? They make sure your one armed character cannot clap.
Free Beta Reading Can Sometimes Work
Free beta reading is great if everyone involved has the same goal: making an amazing piece of writing together so there are no hard feelings when done right. But sometimes readers who are emotionally close to the authors aren’t as invested in what happens next which leads to them being more relaxed about what they say during a review. Most people also can have trouble really identifying what went wrong, or struggle putting into words why a character’s reaction to a situation just didn’t feel organic.
What does a beta reader do? They identify and point out the problems that less experienced “for fun” readers cannot properly put into words.
Proper Education, Knowledge, and Experience Go A Long Way
You know what’s really great? Being able to pay people who are smart, educated and knowledgeable about what they do. You don’t have to worry about hurting someone’s feelings if you’re paying for their time so there is no emotional investment on either side. This makes it possible for paid beta readers to be more honest with what they say because their main goal isn’t that the person whose novel they’re reading doesn’t feel bad or gets mad at them. They can keep in mind what would be best for the story as a whole without getting caught up in relationships (or lack thereof).
Having a beta reader aware of what plot holes are, understanding character tone, humor, and subtle setting and atmosphere changes can be instrumental in your novel. Not only a person who can identify problems, but someone willing to work and brainstorm with you on how to fix and repair those issues.
Paid beta readers aren’t trying to impress you. They’re doing what they do best and want what’s best for the story, not what would make it easiest on them when looking through your novel line by line. There is a reason why some of the most successful and well-known authors still hire professional editors and beta readers before publishing their books: because there are things we miss when we get too close to our work.
What does a beta reader do? An expert beta reader knows the goal of their work is to improve the story at hand. They’re goal should never be to hurt feelings, but they understand that good constructive criticism is required.
What Authors Can Expect From Beta Readers (And Where Free Ones Fall Short)
When I’m asked if free or paid beta reading services are better, my answer always goes back to what an author expects from their reader/editor at each stage in the writing process. I also always say, “You get what you pay for.” Because I’m clever.
But I do mean it earnestly! If you’re paying someone money to give you a service which you can then leave a review for, the beta reading services will more than likely be good. And if it isn’t, you can leave an honest review. And you can at least be assured that the response after reading your book will be more than a, “Yeah, I liked it.”
Free beta reading amounts to a variety of people giving lackluster and minimal feedback because they don’t want to intrude on something you’ve worked so hard on or they don’t understand the value of detailed feedback. And they normally fail to realize that they can enjoy a book and still identify issues within the plot or story itself. If you do find a solid free beta reader that gives you pages of feedback on your novel, you’ve found a needle in a haystack.
But if you’re really looking for good feedback on your story to better it, paid beta reading services are going to give you solid feedback from experienced and knowledgeable readers. It might cost you some money, but beta reading services are an investment in your book. And if it’s done right, beta readers will help you fix things BEFORE it gets to your (more expensive) editor.
What does a beta reader do? They give you valuable and needed feedback before you have to spend a ton more money on much pricier editing services. Having those problems identified before editing is one way to save money, not waste it.
Where Should You Get Your Beta Reading Services Done?
There are a ton of viable beta reading services out there, but I recommend shopping around for an individual that will give you direct one-on-one attention. I offer my beta reading services with a one hour consultation after the book has been read to discuss the book and my full Reader Report.
My Reader Report includes analysis of:
- Characters (characterization, motivation, who sticks out and who you can delete)
- POV (clarity with point of view and consistency in voice)
- Structure (the overall structure of the story and how you are presenting it)
- Plot & Story (if the plot is viable, plot holes, issues with story or any other inconsistencies)
- Dialogue (unique voices, detailing, and jargon in the story)
- Setting (maintaining atmosphere and unique ideas)
I also include suggestions on what I think as a reader you could include or take out. This includes whole scenes to remove or add to the book, switching or combining characters, or narrowing the focus of side plot and main arcs.
Maybe She’s Born With It, Maybe It’s Beta Reading Services
You have worked so hard on your manuscript and you deserve honest, constructive, and valuable feedback on it to potentially improve it. My beta reading services have helped dozens of writers from all types of genres fix major, minor, and subtle issues in their pieces. You deserve someone who is just as invested in your manuscript as you are. Most beta reading services aren’t expensive, and they are so worth the value you get out of them. And if you chose me for your beta reading services, you’ll be happy to note I go over and beyond routinely since I get personally invested as well. Here are some of my client testimonials.
I offer paid beta reading services and have amazing reviews from past clients. You can mosey over to my Fiverr account to view some of my packages and client testimonials. But I also accept direct contacts through my email as well. As always, reach out before booking a package to make sure I have enough time to dedicate.
What does a beta reader do? They make your book better and they make you a stronger, more competent writer. What are you waiting for? Reach out to me today for a quote!