Beta Reading

It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been writing, or how good you are, you still need objective feedback on your story. Just because you happen to think something works brilliantly doesn’t mean that your reader will agree. You are too close to your manuscript to really know the impact it has on readers.  But a good beta reader will be able to tell you.

A beta reader is an unbiased reader who will read your manuscript and provide critical feedback to you. This will usually include comments about plot, characters, narrative voice, dialogue, pacing, atmosphere, use of language and so on. A good beta reader will not only point to flaws and inconsistency; she will also point to the places where your writing works especially well. Bearing in mind that beta readers are usually writers themselves, they should not only have some deep and useful insights, but be able to deliver them in a supportive and helpful manner.

When looking for a beta reader, other writers are your first port of call, although if they are inexperienced or a relative or a close friend, it may be hard for them to supply the objectivity you need. Beyond this, you might want to look at online groups where you can exchange manuscripts and help each other out for free. 

If you run out of options and you need to hire a professional. Always look for someone who has experience of beta reading, and then agree between you the kind of feedback you want. Let them know any areas of concern you personally have; you are not testing your beta reader to see if they notice something – you are after an honest opinion, which includes an opinion about the things you are unsure about.

I am always happy to look at a sample of your work before you commit to having a whole novel read. That way, we can both decide if we are right for each other.

When you do submit your manuscript to a beta reader, (or a copy editor, or an agent, or a publisher) lick it into shape first; clean up any typos, check your grammar and spellings, and help them to enjoy and evaluate your story without the constant irritation of ‘problems’. If you have a particular issue with spellings (if you are dyslexic for example), then do let your beta reader know and she will be able to respond appropriately.

Beta reading is not a substitute for proof-reading, or copy editing. It does not correct typos, spellings or grammar, and it does not necessarily comment on suitability for an intended audience, although your beta reader may comment on all of these if appropriate.

Opens internal link in current windowContact me if you would like me to Beta Read your Novel for you


"A good novel tells us the truth about its hero; but a bad novel

tells us the truth about its author."

Gilbert K. Chesterton