Beta Reading FAQ: For Readers

Published on 19 July 2023 at 14:30

       This blog is going to be a little different, and for the readers, not the writers. I'll get to you soon. But if you're looking to Beta read, and wondering what it is, what it entails, and what you (the Reader) should be asking the author, this is the blog for you!


      Every author is different. No author will expect the same things from their Beta Readers. These are simply my opinions and what I like or prefer in my beta readers.

What is a Beta Reader?

      A beta reader is someone who reads a book that is not quite ready to be published and gives the author feedback about said book or sections of that book they were given. Most authors will outline, like I will be in the next section, what they are looking for from you when they put out a “Call” for Betas. 

Questions you, the Beta, should ask:

Another Disclaimer:

   BEFORE you ask the author any of these questions pay attention to the “call/wanted” post or video and watch/read it all the way through, because chances are they mentioned one or all of these, and you may have missed it because you were too excited or nervous.

  1. What POV is it?
         If you prefer reading a certain POV this is a MUST ask question and there will be no shame in asking it. Because If you prefer third person omnipotent view, and you sign up to read a first person limited view with an unreliable narrator, you’re most likely going to DNF (did not finish).

  2. What is the genre and age group?
          Again, some people prefer Young Adult books as they usually contain less swearing, more fade to black sex scenes, and much less violence… Unless you’re reading a Thriller, Crime, Dark Fantasy, or Horror then everything is on the table. Others prefer Adult books for the swearing, the trauma, the more informed and thought out logic rather than the teenage drama and underaged lunacy that happens in the mind of an adolescent who hasn’t had the life experience or so on to think properly, while others prefer the explicit sex scenes.

  3. When does this book need to be read by or When is the start and end date?


         You as the reader must be aware of how fast you read, what is going on in your life that may effect your reading speed, and what other books might try to vie for your attention while you’re supposed to be Beta Reading.
        For Example: I love books by Laurell K. Hamilton and Carly Spade, and I can’t read more than one book at a time or I lose track in one book and have to restart. So, if I’m scrolling on Social Media and someone puts out a call and the book sounds right up my alley, but it’s around the times one of those authors puts out a new book or I'm in the middle of rewriting one of my own with a deadline coming up, I know I won’t be able to Beta Read, so I won't apply.

  4. Do you give the whole book, or do you prefer giving chunks and have me comment on those chapters before I get the next one?
         Again, this is important, all authors are different, and this question will help set your expectations of them and their expectation of you.
         For Example: I prefer to give out chunks of ten chapters, usually once a week, and get feedback from betas on that chunk before giving them another. On Discord, I have a server for my Beta Readers and I have a channel where I drop the chunks every Friday, but by email, if you finish a chunk, and give me feedback I will send you the next one right away. 
  5. What feedback are you looking for?
         This one usually doesn’t get mentioned in most videos or posts as we, the authors, are trying to keep things brief, but it’s good to know before you commit what the author wants, needs, or would like from their Beta Readers.

          If you are a sensitive person or have issues reading certain topics (aka you have trauma triggers), you need to ask about content and trigger warnings.
          For me, I don’t necessarily have any triggers, but I find incest in a book a ‘No, Thank You.’ Also, if there is any hate or bashing of sexual orientation or gender without explicit reasoning or from the character we’re supposed to hate, it’s another no for me.

What I look for in Beta Readers:

  • Someone who can commit to reading the full book.

    1. You may think this is a "no, duh" statement, but you'd be surprised. 
    2. I give details as to everything I just said you need to ask about to any Beta before they say yes.
    3. I stress the time constraint as it’s usually a non-negotiable frame for me.
  • Someone who checks their messages:

    1. Again, this may seem like a "No, duh" statement, but again, you'd be surprised how many Betas forget to check their messages for weeks during the process. 
    2. I have anxiety and during the beta reading process that gets higher. Communication is the key to keeping my anxiety under control.
    3. I need to know at the end of each section that you have completed it, and for you to give me feedback on the section that I gave you before you get another section.
    4. If you leave me on read, or I do not hear from you in two weeks, I assume that something has come up in your life and you won't be finishing. 
    5. so PLEASE, keep me informed. 
  • What Feedback am I looking for?

    • General Feedback:

      1. Did you like it?
        - This can be a simple yes or no, but the more details the better.
      2. Was there any part that stuck out to you as odd, rough, or wrong?
        - Again, this could be as simple as “It seemed well worded, I enjoyed it and found no errors.” Or you can go into great detail on how the character arc was off, how you don’t like the drinking, swearing, lifestyle choices of characters, and what not. Though, Newsflash: sometimes I don’t like it either, but they are their own entity, and if every character were all like me in values, lifestyle, and beliefs, it a) wouldn’t be realistic and b) would get old very fast.
      3. Was their something that you absolutely loved... or hated?
        For Example:
        • Did a quote make you laugh?
        • Did a scene make you gush?
        • Did I hit you in the feels with a ten pound mallet of emotion?
        • Was there something that made you want to throw the book across the room?
        • All of that encourages me to keep going and helps me know what “worked.”
        • Please, do not spare my feelings. If there is something that feels odd for the established character, or simply rubs you wrong, please, tell me. Odds are, you aren’t the only one thinking it, but everyone else is too afraid to do so.
        • Do not be afraid to voice your opinions. I am hard to offend.
    • Corrections:

            For any and all corrections, I ask to have a direct quote. Copy and paste is best as you may remember it one way when that’s not the direct quote, and I therefore it's harder to look it up to correct it. Screenshots of the passage also work if you’re reading from a phone.

      1. Did you see any typos?
      2. Were there any misused, misspelled, or omitted words, ect.
            Note: This is usually caught by editors, but even traditionally published books have errors that come through. Even editors can get caught up in reading and not catch things if they’re not using software that flags things for them. It’s not a big deal if you don’t find any and someone else does, this is why I have 10 - 20 betas, at least 3 editors, and more eyes on the protect before publication.

    • End Notes:

           After you’ve read the book, I like a bit more general feedback, see if anything has changed now that it's all done.
      For example:
      1. Were all your questions answered?
      2. Did you find any plot holes?
      3. Did something not get resolved?
        Be aware that as this is a long series, what you’re looking for may not be resolved in this book, but in the books to come.

  • Reviews:

       After the book release, it would be ever so helpful for the book, and for me as an Author, if you would go to Amazon, goodreads, or anywhere else the book is sold and leave a good/decent/honest review. This step is not required but it will help me and my books succeed.
    • How so?
    • In terms of social media:
      - Reads are like views: If a book gets 20 reads on kindle (if you're on KU), that’s great.
      - If it gets likes (star rating) that’s Amazing!
      - Reviews are like a comments. It lets sites know that the book is worthy of being pushed to other people.

  • Sharing:

        I usually don’t state this, because I haven’t worked it all the way out yet, but if you share it with someone you know or an acquaintance that might love it. This will help immensely as I’m a baby author and still looking to grow my audience.
    • Where/How can you share it?
      1. Share my social posts to your pages, stories, or just press “Share” and “Copying link” this will let the algorithm know that people like it and are sending it to other people.
             Tip: if you do share it and you write a little snippet like “quoting” a tweet instead of just reposting it, or writing a little note, or (even one line) excerpt from the book or a favorite quote from it, that will help it reach more people.
      2. Make your own social media post about the book/books:
        1. Talk about the book itself.
        2. Maybe talk about the beta experience.
        3. Say why you liked/loved/enjoyed it.
        4. This is like a review but on your socials where your followers, and the rest of the world might see it instead of  just on sites you can get the book.
        5. Tip: don’t include a link in the main body or text of your post. This can drag your views down and cause it to not be scene. If you stick it in the comments, that will help.
      3. Word of mouth:
        1. Talk to someone about it in person.
        2. Mention it in passing conversation.
        3. It could be an icebreaker at places like doctors offices, luncheons with family, friends, or awkward business parties.



      Most Authors don’t offer anything but their gratitude and a pdf of the book for you to read, because that’s all we most of us can afford to do.
      But I value feedback, reviews, and I appreciate the time and effort you put in so I want to give you something in return other than a few hours of escapism and friends in the form of book characters, without further ado:

  1. Early reading access: (This is what every author gives you)
        You get to read the book in it’s third stage, there may be changes made, but nothing big unless there is a glaring error that the Editors and Alpha readers missed.

  2. For those who buy physical books:
        I am now offering my books to Betas at half the listed Amazon price (or the price I am charged for author copies plus shipping.

  3. Merch:
    • Early access/dibs:
          I talk about the merch and post pictures over on my Discord Beta Server (chat room) usually about a week to a month before I start preorders or release it.
    • Coupons/discounts:
           I am going to give all betas, past and present, a discount on merch (1 item per book read). You get the merch at the same price I pay for it. No markup, just shipping costs. Granted this isn’t much as I don’t mark up my merch much at all, but still, I want to offer you more things.

Final notes:

      If you start Beta reading and for ANY reason, you feel like you cannot continue or finish, PLEASE do not leave the author hanging. Let them know. Even if it's just a simple, "Hey, I'm sorry, but I can't finish the book because life." This will ease a bit of guilt on your part and anxiety on theirs. I do not shame anyone who cannot finish a book on time or have to DNF because something came up or triggered you or you simple lost interest. Every book is not for every person. I do hope that you finish and love it, but things happen, styles clash, and so on.
      I do have to say this though, if you do not finish, you will not get the benefits of discounts and such for books/merch. As they say, "Them's the breaks."

Soon: Part 2, For the writers/Authors

    I will be writing a blog next week for the Writers and Authors looking for Beta Readers! Everything from what to put in your post/video, how to choose the right Betas, and even how to tell someone that they can't be a Beta, and yes there are several reasons to NOT choose a Beta, even if they message you and check all the boxes. 

That's all folks! Thanks for reading!

~ Jenn


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