A while back, I wrote about How I Found My Beta Team for Eyes of the Hunter and promised to share the guidelines I provide my beta readers with to help them give me useful feedback. This is that post 🙂
When looking for beta readers, I target honest and dependable people who enjoy the manuscript’s genre. I also make sure they are familiar with both good writing techniques and important elements to the craft.
To make sure everyone is on the same page, I need to know exactly what I want from my beta readers. Then, I make sure that they know by providing them with a clear list.
Below is the basic letter I give my beta readers, which I tailor per project and person. You can also download the template for the Beta Reader Checklist [pdf] for future reference.
Dear Beta Reader;
Thank you for being part of my Beta Team! I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to help me make improvements to [Book Title]. Please, don’t worry about grammar, spelling, and punctuation issues; an editor is helping with those. The feedback I’m concerned about centers on continuity, character development, dialogue, flow, and completeness:
- Is the story interesting?
- Does it make sense?
- Any plot holes?
- Does the story flow?
- Is the continuity okay?
- Did I miss any important information or opportunities?
- Do you get a solid feel for the setting and people?
- Do the characters unfold well?
- Do any of the characters need more development?
- Is the pacing okay? Does it lag anywhere?
- Is anything clunky or awkward?
- Are there problem areas that need more attention?
- What worked for you? What didn’t work for you?
- … And, of course, anything else you feel I should know.
Specific concerns I have for this book are:
- [Specific feedback needed]
Please, be as specific as possible with your answers. Your honest comments will go a long way in helping this story be a success. I need your notes by [date]. I look forward to reading them and thank you, again.
Download the Beta Reader Checklist [pdf]
Need more information about what a beta reader does? Check out Duties of a Beta Reader, which includes a handy pdf to download.