In this episode we’re going to talk how to find and use Beta readers to massively improve your book.

Intro

Beta readers are SO important! But most authors I talk to don’t use them. Why?

So let’s dive into finding them, and maximizing their power.

What is a Beta Reader?

* Term comes from the software development world. A beta tester is someone who uses an unfinished version of a program to find the bugs.* We had a beta period for MyBookTable where we got lots of feedback on how to make the plugin better. * They give you feedback on your story … early!

Why Beta Readers?

* Fresh eyes, you’re not objective. Neither are most spouses.* Beta readers help you see your story from another set of eyeballs.* Test audiences for films. Pretty Woman

Not all BRs are created equal.

Determine Your Perfect Beta Reader/Develop a Profile

* Age?* Gender?* Why do they read? (Why do you write? We’ve talked about this.)* What type of stories do they gravitate toward in books, movies, TV shows?* Do they like giving reviews on Amazon, Rotten Tomatoes, etc? Are they someone who can easily express how they felt about a book or show?* Fans of your genre

Finding & Choosing Beta Readers

* Facebook, Twitter, your email list. LinkedIn.* Be careful, you might end up saying no to a lot of folks.* Go to the social media sites where they hang out.* Ask your super fans.* Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/50920-beta-reader-group  * Sometimes friends and family are great, sometimes people who aren’t emotionally invested in you are better.* Kickstarter backers! People who pay extra for early access can be great beta readers. * Can they be honest?* If they’re not a friend, and a writer, offer to swap reads* Be careful using other writers though …* Start following people you think fit your profile. Set up at least 25, then cull them down to your top 15. * Pick people who read in your genre.* Pick people who DON’T read in your genre.* Google Docs or Word?

How Many?

* It depends. Somewhere between three and thirty* 5 Alphas * 30 Betas * Why? Some won’t finish. A larger sample size.* Jim’s Alpha readers* Reminder, They’re Not Editors

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Once You Have Them

* What do you want them to do?* Theme? Pacing? Character feedback? Story arc? * Continuity (especially for epic fantasy) * Let them choose.* Also …* Develop a simple one sheet where you ask them specific questions. * How many pages did you read in your first sitting?* Give them a deadline.* Whatever They Say, Accept it Graciously, and DON’T ARGUE!* If three or more say the same things … listen!* But don’t listen to everything, in the end it’s YOUR book.* Thick skin time. They’re there to help.* You don’t have to use them again, but don’t risk losing a potential friend.