Tag Archives: feedback

Duties of a Beta Reader

With more authors taking the indie route, the term “beta reader” is getting tossed about more and more. But, what is a beta reader? What does the task entail? Here is the information I provide to prospective beta readers to help them understand their duties. (Link to downloadable pdf at the end.)

What is My Job as a Beta Reader?

As a beta reader, you will identify what type and tone of story the author is going for and shape your feedback to help the author realize their vision for the story.

You are the author’s extra set of eyes. You will highlight areas that need improvement and give (gently) honest feedback to weed out story issues before the manuscript goes to an editor.

 

 

What Issues Does a Beta Reader Look For?

As a beta reader, your focus will be on development. This includes plot, characters, and over all story cohesiveness.

1. Look for issues like:

2. Make note of the issues you find, question to see if that’s what the author intended, and offer suggestions for fixing it.

3. Use the Track Change option to mark your comments and corrections directly in the manuscript.

4. Be honest. If a joke doesn’t work, let the author know. Don’t brush off things that are awkward, factually incorrect, or out of character/theme/flow. It’s better to question and suggest than let something potentially problematic slide.

5. Be specific and descriptive with your feedback. Give the author something solid to work with. It helps if you give a brief explanation of why you’re making a suggestion so the author is more open to consideration.

6. Be kind. You want to avoid making the author feel defensive or hopeless. Try to “sandwich” critiques with praise or phrase them as a question/suggestion.

7. Leave editing for spelling and grammar to an editor. If you see inconsistencies in spell (ie. UK vs USA spellings) or a repeated editing related issues, make a note for the author to go through the manuscript specifically for that issue.

8. Meet the deadline. The author is on a schedule and it takes time to incorporate beta notes into a revised draft, so please be sure to have your notes back to them on or before the deadline they’ve laid out.

The author may not take all your suggestions, but at least you’ve done your job by providing giving them a good foundation for their revisions. Once you’ve sent them your notes, let it go and trust the author to do what they believe is best for their story.

 


 

You can download a pdf copy of Duties of a Beta Reader and the pdf template of the Beta Reader Checklist for your own use. If you find them useful, please share with the links with other authors.

Beta Reader Checklist for Useful Feedback

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.

Sincerely,
Rosa

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.