Questions to ask your Beta readers

I volunteered to be a beta reader once but, by the time I’d figured out the technology to read the work, another reader had made substantive suggestions which the author decided to take on board immediately with a re-write. To be clear, he didn’t communicate this with me directly, I read it in a tweet – which I ‘liked’.

But then I wasn’t sure what to do. Should I continue with reading the original version and offer my feedback on it regardless? Should I wait for him to incorporate those changes and read the revised version? In all honesty, I should’ve asked him what he wanted me to do – but I didn’t. He hadn’t communicated with me direct, I was new to the whole #writerscommunity and felt totally out of my depth.

A couple of years later and our co-written work The November Deadline is getting closer to completion, and thus being ready for beta reading. As a result, I’m paying more attention than usual to this subject, so was delighted to find an article on this very subject at BetaReader.io. In brief, BetaReader was set up by a writer who’d had a less than perfect experience with beta readers, and set out to look out for a better way. Do check out the site as it may prove to be what you need.

BetaReader recently compiled a list of the most common beta questions asked by authors:

  1. Did you lose interest, even only a little, at some point? Where and why?
  2. Which character did you enjoy the most? The least? Why?
  3. Did the dialogue feel natural?
  4. If you could change anything to make the story better, what would you change?
  5. Did anything in the text confuse you? What? Why?
  6. Were there any points throughout that you found unbelievable or illogical? If so, why?
  7. Were any parts of the plot predictable?
  8. What’s your favorite part about the book?
  9. How was the pacing between narrative and dialogue?
  10. What enticed you the most if anything? What grabbed your attention the most?
  11. Lastly, did the climax feel climactic, was the payoff in the end worth reading the whole book?

In the spirit of gathering as much information as possible

As a writer
are there additional questions you’d like your beta reader to answer?
are there areas you don’t want your beta reader to comment upon?

As a beta reader
how much direction do you like to receive from writers?
what questions have you previously been asked by writers that you would add to the list above?


 

 

 

Author: debscarey

Tweets @debsdespatches My primary blog is Debs Despatches, where I ramble on a variety of topics personal to me, including #ISWG reflections; I write fiction on co-hosted site Fiction Can Be Fun and my Life Coaching business is Caring Coaching. My previous general blog was Bunny and the Bloke- now in mothballs.

5 thoughts on “Questions to ask your Beta readers”

  1. I just want to know what the author wants to know. I have started to do some beta reading, and instead of the list above, I got vagueness. Do I make suggestions? Do I go in depth or just keep it topical? Is it “well, I know I have a lot of editing to do and…” what they are saying is I WANT YOU TO EDIT THIS FOR ME but still, keep it light….can we say screaming inside a little.

    I’d want clarity of what the author is looking for the most to be important to know. If you want me to be an editor, then we need to talk about terms: bartering? reciprocity? pay? Depends on the depth of need.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Those are great points Stu. When I act as a reviewer for technical papers, my default position has been that I am not there to act as a copyeditor – if there are problems with the English, they need to be highlighted, but my focus is the scientific merit. I think a beta is in a similar position, it is not their job to proof read for typos (but if the MS is otherwise ‘clean’, picking up a couple of typos is a kindness). But I think by the time that you are looking at beta readers, the MS has been through the mill a couple of times, and you are looking for overall readability.

      Like

    2. Yes, I agree, clarity helps – which can be hard when both parties are new to the process. That’s why I liked the questions BetaReader.io suggested as, even if they weren’t relevant to your project, they offered guidance to a newbie.

      Like

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