Finding beta readers is hard. And building a team of betas is worth the headache.
Some authors have one or two beta readers but I think it’s a good idea to build a focus group.
Benefits of Readers
It is important to stress that your readers be in your target audience. It’s very difficult to find a good beta reader… let alone a few that are in your target audience.
I recommend tapping into communities that may have people in your target audience. Sometimes looking for people that beta read isn’t enough. Sometimes it’s helpful to go out into the world and find someone that may potentially be your target audience.
Even though there are people like me all over the place, if you can’t find someone who will read your work and be reliable, get to know people that might be interested in it.
Right now, I’m writing a novella with pagan themes in it. Because of this, I’ve also gone to pagan communities to see if anyone would want to beta read my book and I’ve received interest from a couple of people in that community. Their opinions will help me immensely.
Think about what type of people are most likely to read your book and get to know those people. If they know you and you build a relationship with them, they may be willing to take a look at your work. If you can, start this process before the book is done. Mentioning it in conversation may help people gain interest in what you’re offering.
If you decide to find people that would be your audience, I encourage you to ask them plenty of questions because most of them won’t know what kind of feedback you are curious about if they don’t beta read regularly.
Benefits of Writers
Writers for beta readers of your genre are also very helpful. They can give you editing advice and help strengthen your work technically. They would also know your genre well enough to make suggestions that are specific to the type of story you’re trying to tell.
A lot of times when a writer is your beta reader they will ask you if you can swap work and they live close to being critique partners. This is common practice in the writing community and sometimes you can discover great stories this way.
Benefits of Critique Circles
Critique circles are helpful in a different way. I’ve been looking at a lot of different critique sites and plan to write posts about my experiences with them in the future.
Most critique sites only let you post a certain amount of material. And a lot of them have a credit system to post work. You usually have to critique someone else’s work to post.
Back to the original point… critique circles are useful for tightening individual chapters. Most of the people on there won’t follow your whole piece of work but for them seeing an excerpt is helpful in that it will help you figure out if your chapters are solid.
There are many places to look for people that would be willing to look at your work. It may take some time but finding the right people to help you is vital. Happy Hunting!