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Where to find your beta readers

Updated: Apr 22

You’ve decided it’s time to put your work in front of some beta readers. You have your pitch ready. So, where do you go to find your beta readers?


A woman reading a book under a autumnal tree


Friends and family

You may be able to start close to home by asking friends and family to act as your first beta readers. However, make sure that they are going to be able to give you constructive feedback.


Do they have the time to read for you? Are they interested in the material that you are writing? Can you trust them to give you honest opinions? Or are they going to prefer to tell you what they think you want to hear so that they don’t hurt your feelings?

If you doubt your friends’ ability to be constructive and honest, they may not be a good source of feedback.


Social Media

Fortunately, in this era of social media, there are plenty of places for you to look for beta readers. The best venue may depend on the nature of your work. If you are writing YA fantasy then go where your natural readers are likely to hang out – Wattpad and Instagram perhaps.


Otherwise, start with the platform you feel most comfortable with, and then branch out if you need to. Have a look around and decide if you like the feel of the place. There is no point in seeking help in a group that makes you feel uncomfortable for some reason.

Before you start posting your pitch, make sure you’ve read the advice and guidelines provided by the group and are following it.


Online writing communities (Scribophile, writingforums.com, Absolute Write etc)

If you have been writing for any amount of time you may belong to one or more writing communities. Most have a forum somewhere devoted to beta reader requests. If you have built up any relationships within these communities, then your first step may be to contact some of your buddies and ask if they are willing to beta-read for you. Keep in mind that it is usually considered good manners to offer to swap – you beta-read your friend's work in exchange for feedback on your book.


Goodreads has several groups dedicated to matching up writers and beta readers. Find them with a quick search on the Groups page and then have a look at how active the group is. The biggest (and most active) is Beta Reader Group.


An advantage of looking for beta readers on Goodreads is that you can access their reading history, which will give you a good idea of how strong a match they are for your work.


Facebook

There are several groups aimed at bringing writers and beta readers together on Facebook. Again, look at how active they are and get a feel for the mood of the place before you send your beloved work out into it. I’ve found some of the groups to be cliquey, judgemental, and just not very positive. There are more friendly groups on Facebook, you just need to go and find them.


r/BetaReaders: Connecting Authors with Betas on Reddit

In my experience, this is a lively and well-moderated sub. As a beta reader I’ve been able to match up with authors needing reads of entire books, or just a few pages, in genres that interest me and I have some expertise in.


X (formally Twitter)

Try putting out a call on hashtags #betareader #amreading #amwriting. All are lively.


Beta-Reader Management Systems

There is a growing number of software solutions for delivering your book and processing your beta readers’ feedback. Some have free plans with limited capabilities, but most charge a monthly or yearly rate to access all their service options. Do your research to find the one that works best for you.


StoryOrigin offers a range of services to indie authors, and that includes a method of delivering your text to your beta readers and tracking their feedback. There is a Basic (free) plan that provides this, and the site offers plenty of advice on getting everything set up.

I’ve used StoryOrigin as a beta reader and always found it reliable and easy to use.


Bookfunnel is a system for secure book delivery, among other things.

It is not a great tool to use for beta reading because it does not allow in-text comments. This makes it harder for the reader to gather their impressions and means the author loses the insight from these raw responses.


Betaread.io has a free option that allows you to distribute one manuscript to a limited number of beta readers. More extensive use needs a paid account. On the positive side, it is a place where beta readers go to seek out manuscripts to read, so your pool of readers will be wide.


I have used Betaread.io as a beta reader. The interface is perfectly serviceable, though a few of the controls are well hidden.


I’m aware of these services but have never used them, so can offer little advice. There are probably other services out there that I haven’t stumbled across yet. The internet is a massive place.

Looking for paid beta readers

Professional beta readers do have a presence on many of these sites. But if you are specifically interested in paying for beta reading you can also look on freelancer market sites such as Fiverr, Upwork and Reedsy.


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