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:
- Did you lose interest, even only a little, at some point? Where and why?
- Which character did you enjoy the most? The least? Why?
- Did the dialogue feel natural?
- If you could change anything to make the story better, what would you change?
- Did anything in the text confuse you? What? Why?
- Were there any points throughout that you found unbelievable or illogical? If so, why?
- Were any parts of the plot predictable?
- What’s your favorite part about the book?
- How was the pacing between narrative and dialogue?
- What enticed you the most if anything? What grabbed your attention the most?
- 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?