Readers have been asking me this question: How can I be a beta reader?
In the beginning of the Haunting Danielle series I used a small group of beta readers—most were people I knew personally. About midway through the series I expanded my pool of beta readers, reaching out to subscribers of the Haunting Danielle Newsletter.
I received dozens and dozens of inquiries, which unfortunately meant not everyone who was interested became a beta reader.
What does a beta reader do?
Technically, I have three groups of beta readers. The first is a smaller group—those people I know personally and who I won’t be adding to via my newsletter.
The second group of beta readers—which are selected from Haunting Danielle subscribers, receives the book BEFORE it sees the editor. They are told to ignore any typos or grammar issues and basically, just read for the story. Their job is to look for plot holes and inconsistencies with the series. While the general rule is to ignore typos, I ask them to point out anytime I used the wrong character name. (It seems that has always been an issue with me, and it is amazing how the wrong character name can slip through regardless of the countless eyes checking.)
This round of beta readers are also expected to tell me what sucks about the story or if they especially like something. Telling me what they liked about the book isn’t meant to stroke my ego (although that is a perk) but it helps me understand what readers enjoy, so I can try doing it again.
While the general rule for this round of beta readers is to critique the story and check for plot holes, if they find something annoying—perhaps I overused a phrase—then I want them to tell me.
Changes are made to the book after these betas get back to me. The book then goes off to the editor. When the book comes back from the editor, it then goes to the last round of beta readers, while I read the book again, via the text to audio feature on my word processor. This means my eyes read the words, while the robot voice reads them aloud.
Unlike the second round of beta readers, the last group is asked to do what the previous group did, but also to look for any homophones or punctuation/grammar issues we all missed.
What are requirements for a beta reader?
A beta reader must be a fan of the series—one who has read all the current books. This is important because it would be impossible for a beta reader to catch series inconsistences if he or she hadn’t read all the previous books in the series.
Since I select these groups of beta readers from Haunting Danielle subscribers, a beta reader needs to be a subscriber of the newsletter.
Subscribing is fairly easy. You can do it here. I never share subscriber information, and I try to send out newsletters every two weeks, where I include a raffle for prizes.
A beta reader must be willing to read the beta copy and send me his/her comments typically within a three day window.
Are you looking for new beta readers?
I’m not now, but I might be in the near future. While I tend to stick with the same group of beta readers, over time I lose some. It’s typically because their schedule has changed and they just don’t have the time to read and respond so quickly.
When I reach out for new beta readers, I will send a notice to all the newsletter subscribers asking those who are interested to apply.
Why would anyone want to be a beta reader?
Beta readers aren’t a paying job—so it is typically done for the love of the series. It is an opportunity to help shape the series and keep it on a positive course.
Why do you seek beta readers who already like the series? Wouldn’t it be better to use someone more objective?
Not necessarily. Let me explain. Imagine I was writing a new book for the sci-fi genre. It is the first book in the series. I would search out beta readers who loved the sci-fi genre, and then seek from them their honest, objective opinions, be it good or bad. Because, it would be sci-fi readers I am seeking, not romance or mystery readers.
In the case of Haunting Danielle, it already has its “readers.” Those people who enjoy the series. THEY are the ones I am seeking to entertain and please. I already know some people hate the series. I have no desire to make changes to my books based on the reviewers who may have given me one star reviews—not unless those one star reviews were coming from a significant segment of the Haunting Danielle fans.
No author will please everyone. It is impossible and a foolish goal. However, I want to please my Haunting Danielle readers—yet even with those, there will be some who will be disappointed and dislike where I am taking the stories. My beta readers help me navigate this journey, and hopefully help me avoid sinking or crashing into a iceberg. Metaphorically, of course.