Finding beta readers can be tough, especially if you’re a new writer. But it’s not impossible. There are a few things you can do to improve your chances of getting beta readers.
When I first started my second beta round, I had received my first piece of unsolicited advice from a stranger.
Yep. It happens. If it hasn’t to you yet, it probably will.
I’m not here to rant about this person. That and bothering to message them back is a huge waste of time. Instead, I’m going to explain how their “advice” on how to ask for beta readers, isn’t necessarily the right method.
Their “advice”: This person insisted that I shouldn’t require so many restrictions/conditions when requesting beta readers. They claimed they had done what I had and got very little interest, so they kept their newer post simple. They then proceeded to mention that they hardly got any volunteers this way either… *face palm* …and instead got more through critique partner requests and paid beta work.
I had found out through the group I’m a part of that they don’t have ANY social media websites, which makes it harder to find beta readers. I will explain that later in this post.
There is nothing wrong with going the route they mentioned, if you so please, but you only have so much money and so little time. If you want a lot of beta readers, there is no way in hell you could critique/beta all of their work or afford 20 paid beta readers.
If you aren’t having much luck getting beta readers then you need to stop just asking, and take a different approach. Here’s what you can do to help attract beta readers.
1. Know What You Want
As a writer you need to know a lot of things, like the direction of you story, and how it’s going to end. The same should apply when you’re requesting feedback. Having a deadline is important too. If you don’t take the beta reading process seriously, more than likely your betas won’t either.
If you don’t have set criteria and tell betas to do whatever, you might not get the feedback you are looking for. Not only that, they might not get back to you in a timely manner or at all.
If you are afraid that being bossy will deter people, guess again.
Having a plan is professional and it indicates that you care about your work.
2. Be Positive
As writers, we can be very negative about our work at times. It’s normal. There is nothing wrong with expressing your problems with your story, and sometimes talking to people can help. But maybe consider keeping it concealed from the public eye, especially when you are looking for help.
If you tell people your book sucks, do you think they will want to read it?
Imagine trying to sell a product that way: You see this tea, it sucks. I made such an awful product, but PLEASE, PLEASE buy it!
Talk about crying a fucking river.
See what I mean?
You are trying to elicit sympathy to get people to read your work, but you probably won’t get any. And remember, if you are in the beta stage that means you’re still editing. Your book is not ready for publication, so readers should expect it to have errors and problems. There is no need to tell people about it. If you constantly whine about how much your book sucks, then beta readers will think it’s true and steer clear of trying to help you.
Instead, be positive about your work and optimistic about the beta stage. Having a positive and kind attitude can be contagious. People don’t want to be around someone who is always in a crappy mood.
3. Join Social Media
Social media IS your friend.
I know it sounds crazy, but when it comes to being an author, it is. It’s the most effective way to gain a following. And it’s also a great way to promote your work, meet people, and find beta readers.
You can’t expect people to come to you. You must dedicate your time to posting regularly. It’s best to start as soon as you can.
4. Talk to Other Writers
You can’t just publish a post asking for betas and expect the requests to poor in. Unless of course you are well known but most of us writers aren’t. It’s not impossible to get betas this way, but you’ll get very few volunteers, if any at all.
Communicating with other writers and showing interest in their work is your best bet in finding betas. That’s not to say that you should only talk to writers with the intent to get them to beta read your work.
That would make you a HUGE ass.
You want to form long lasting relationships with people. Encourage them. Comment on their posts and maybe even volunteer to read their work. In turn, they might do the same. You might just find a future writing buddy this way!
Let me tell you, when you find the right ones they are the BEST!
5. Other Ways to Find Betas
Forums: If you are the type of person who likes forums, join one. There are some popular writing forums such as Absolute Write but again, actually post about things besides your book.
Good Reads Groups: I have found that the best way to get betas here is to ask people who are already offering to beta read. I never had a problem with them following through. Though you might have more luck than I did requesting betas, because my book is epic fantasy and it’s REALLY long. Not many are willing to commit to such a lengthy book.
Post in the comment sections on YouTube of popular writers such as Jenna Moreci, Kim Chance, or Vivien Reis. I doubted this would work, but some of my best beta readers found me this way.
Remember: Don’t think your book is awful because people aren’t volunteering to read it. Be patient and spend as much time on social media as you can. Finding beta readers can take time.