How to Give Your Beta Readers Clear Guidance

Pile of mailers containing proofs of the book And Yet We Rise for Beta Readers
Mailing out a round of books to beta readers

When I needed Beta Readers for my graphic novel, And Yet We Rise, I had no problem getting volunteers from personal contacts and friends on social media. I soon had a dozen names and books to give them. What I didn't have was guidance. I searched the internet for a straight forward bullet list of tasks for readers. The closest I came to finding anything of the sort was at . The letter below is adapted from this source material because I thought it was so good.

Guidance to Beta Readers for And Yet We Rise:

book cover: And Yet We Rise
Thank you for your help. Below I have compiled a list of things that I’d like you to pay special attention to. The list isn’t meant to be exhaustive, but rather a jumping off place.  I really want you to give honest feedback that will allow me to make the best book possible. I’ve supplied you with a “proof” of the book, so please write comments directly on it. Circle things, cross things out, etc. When you finish, send it back to me full of comments After this edit, I plan to rework the book and send you a clean, first edition copy as a thank you.

  • Comment with your thoughts as you read, even if it’s to say, “Ooh, I like this” or to make predictions about what will happen next. This shows me how people read the book.
  • Things I’d like you to look for:
    • Areas you felt were missing something or weren’t developed enough
    • Sections or scenes superfluous to the story
    • Any part of the story, dialogue, or narrative you didn’t understand or found confusing
    • The flow and pace of the chapters
    • Mark places that made you felt emotion (and note that emotion and why)
  • Write “whys,” not “shoulds.” For example, you write “I’m confused here because…” or “I don’t like this because…” will be more helpful than “You should do…” statements.

Please return to me by October 21. You can give it to me personally or send by mail.

If you have a good list of guidance for beta readers, leave a comment, or send me an email. You can also find me on Twitter @dsborden.

Rediscover the joy of letters when my new website launches on October 19, 2016. I enjoy receiving old-school correspondence by snail mail. If you are similarly inclined, drop me a line at:

David Borden
c/o ScribbleFire
PO BOX 200512
Austin, TX 78720

There is a high probability I'll write you back...

#writing #betareader #editing #publishing #book #graphicnovel


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