Beta Readers, Beta Reading

02 May

As is probably common with most writers, I have not had the best success in finding willing and able beta readers. More often, I can find willing people who are not exactly able. Well, able to actually ever offer up feedback anyway. It is a boon to find someone who can or will take the time to read a work in progress. It is, unfortunately, far worse when the best you get from that person is, ‘I liked it’ or, worst case scenario, you never hear from them again.

I am not too proud to mention that my mother (yes, my mother) has been my most effective beta reader for the purpose of pure editing over content editing. She is my mother, so I tend to fear that her lack of plot or story input is based in uterine muscle memory rather than a critical eye. Even so, she has the keenest eye for grammar and sentence structure that I could ask for. So good, in fact, that I don’t look for other beta readers in that area. What I hope for is a reader that can give me feedback about character development, plot momentum, setting, background, and all of the other various and sundry elements that are far less clinical and far more esoteric.

Jami Gold offered a pretty clear illustration on beta readers in her blog. The point she made that resounded most with me is this: If I want quality beta readers, I’d probably better start offering myself up for some beta reading as well. I had a dear friend who is an accomplished short story author ask me to beta read for her first full length, YA novel. Within two chapters, I confessed that it was getting in the way of my writing and I wouldn’t be dependable. Well, that is no longer an excuse. With three completed manuscripts in the editing process, I can safely allow myself to read now.

So, here it is: Writers, I am willing and able to be your beta reader. I confess, my tastes are limited to Steampunk, science fiction, fantasy, essays, and various YA genres. Anything else may find a hard time maintaining my attention, but I am willing to offer up brutal and constructive criticism if it means I might be able to call on you later. Feel free to contact me here and we can work out something based on your timeline.


Posted by on May 2, 2012 in Uncategorized


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8 responses to “Beta Readers, Beta Reading

  1. kathleenbradean

    May 2, 2012 at 8:50 AM

    I’ll always have time for you.

  2. Jami Gold

    May 2, 2012 at 9:57 AM

    Thanks for the link, Tobias!

    Good luck finding your beta readers. I started with one, then two, then tried growing to about five, but only one was any good. 🙂 Okay, keep that one, toss the rest. Repeat. It’s taken me about a year and a quarter and five or six go-arounds to find the group I have.

    Also, one of those I initially tossed out later asked me to beta read in return. I did my usual thorough job, “teaching” her what a beta read should look like. She’s now a great beta reader for me. 🙂

    • tobiaswrites

      May 2, 2012 at 10:01 AM

      I had started off asking friends. I’m pretty sure I’ve become a nuisance to them, so now I’m on to scouring the internet. You wrote this all up really well though – I hope you get some traffic out of my link because you said it well enough that I didn’t need to say it again.

  3. tamarahickman

    May 2, 2012 at 9:09 PM

    Tobias, have you tried out Authonomy? I get some awesome feed back from the community there (and bad feedback, also lol). Admittedly, most people won’t comment past the first few chapters, but sometimes people offer to do read swaps, and some give excellent feedback in all the areas you are looking for. =D

    • tobiaswrites

      May 3, 2012 at 4:39 PM

      After giving it a cursory once-over, I think that this is not the venue for me. Perhaps it was the oversized createspace ad featured prominently on the page, but I have a high level of discomfort with putting that much of my writing ‘out there’. I’m by no means a Luddite or internet conspiracy theorist, but I am overly concerned about where my manuscript might end up. Did you know a person was selling Dracula as their own on smashwords? Just changed the name of the author – I don’t think she even gave it new cover art.
      No, I think I will stick to individuals who I can create some sort of rapport with rather than let it all hang out and hope for the best.
      Okay, so maybe I *do* have a little bit of internet-based paranoia.

      • tamarahickman

        May 3, 2012 at 8:52 PM

        LOL To each his own, my friend. ^_^ I forgot to say that I would greatly enjoy beta reading for you. I’m no good at those prickly bits, but I can give an opinion on pacing, character developement, and overall enjoyability. =)

        About the Dracula Thief… for shame! D= Just goes to show that nothing is sacred! Not even Dracula… oh wait…

      • kathleenbradean

        May 3, 2012 at 9:03 PM

        That same person screen swiped a bunch of free stories of Literoritca and published them through CreateSpace. But Dracula is public domain, so if she hadn’t taken the publisher’s book formatting and additional material – which was under copyright, it would have been legal.

  4. Caitlin Ricci

    May 11, 2012 at 2:42 PM

    I’ll read for you. Ask your sister in law for a reference. If you have time when I’m ready to start going over my YA when Silver Publishing’s YA section opens in July I’d love to have your opinion on a few stories since you’re familiar with the genre.


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