Why Authors Need Beta Readers

Beta-Readers.
… and where you can find them.
You might ask: “what’s the difference between a Beta Reader, manuscript editor and a proof reader?” or “Why should I give my manuscript to a Beta Reader instead of my trusted friends or family?”
Contrary to friends and family member, Beta Readers are often writers themselves.  Maybe even in the same genre and they ought to give you honest feedback, no sugar coating, but constructive critique – while your beloved ones are often afraid to hurt your feelings, and might not be objective.  Dealing with another writer you can easily exchange in beta-reading each other’s manuscripts.  And both of you can learn from the others’ weak points.  So, how can you find Beta Readers?  Some suggestions:

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Online Writer Forums
These forums provide ample opportunity for authors and readers alike to come together.  Authors can create a homepage on the site where they can blog, showcase their work, post audio or video, and often past reviews – and best of all: meet Beta Readers.
For writers looking for very specific feedback from knowledgeable readers, these forums are a great place to find them, because participants tend to cluster around particular topics of interest.
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Here are just a few of the online resources available that can help writers to connect.  The most popular one seems to be Wattpad which has now 24 million members.  Even celebrity authors, such as Margaret Atwood, post there from time to time.  As many as half of its writers are anonymous or pseudonymous.  The traditional publishing industry is watching Wattpad closely, not only as a source of new talent but also for techniques to increase reader engagement”, writes David Streitfeld in a New York Times article. Brittany Geragotelis has been “discovered” this way.

Join Writing Groups
Many creative writing groups focus on critique. While Beta Readers are working through your entire finished manuscript, that’s often not possible for writing groups as time often allows only a few pages. Try to find a beta reading exchange with other members – aside from the regular meetings of the group.
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Beta Readers at Goodreads
It’s a place with almost 6,000 members where writers can connect with Beta Readers on Goodreads.  Sometimes writers get so involved in the plot they can’t see the wood for the trees.

A cliche is just one of the things to look out for while writing.  They can slip in unnoticed and ruin an otherwise great paragraph.  Then there’s the passive voice, accents, misspelling, typos, incorrect data. The list is long.  Avid Beta Readers are not your editor or proof reader and don’t expect them to do the grunt work. That’s up to you. But they could have spotted a few flaws BEFORE you released the book and helped strengthen your story.  Post your genre and get a group of well-read writers/readers to offer their feedback.

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Beta Readers at Google+
Google+ offers a variety of fantastic communities for writers looking to connect with like-minded authors. Join these groups, and look out for new ones regularly.

  • Writers’ Critique Group
  • The Writer’s Discussion Group
  • Writers’ Corner
  • Poets of G+
  • JLB Creatives
  • Aspiring Authors
  • Writers, Authors, Bloggers
  • Authors – Blatant Promo 4 Writers, Blogs!

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Why not Establish your own Beta Reader Group? As more Beta Readers you have, as better!  Different people catch different errors.
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MeetUp Groups and Workshops
I recently attended quite a few manuscript critique / beta-reading author meetings and was impressed by the friendly, constructive suggestions of these Meetup members.  They can be mostly found in cities, and include a variety of groups for writers.  Some gatherings are dedicated to critique and to beta reading.  This is a great avenue for those writers who prefer face-to-face interaction, and who are also open to meet new writer friends.  Don’t find a beta reader meetup listed for your city?  Organize your own one!

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Once you’ve found a handful of Beta Readers to share your work with you, the result will be a manuscript, which is ready for the editor.  Beta Reading might save you a lot of money if the editor is charging by the hour. Beta Reading also helps to polish your book before the first reviewer or readers get their hand on your book.

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