The Beta-Reading Tips at the End of the Universe

Beta-reading is so much fun! I love helping authors improve their stories any way I can and seeing the finished product is always heart happy. 😉 I’ve written a post on it before, geekily titled “The Beta-Reader’s Guide to the Galaxy”, but since then I’ve picked up a few more tips to help myself (and hopefully you too!) on this crazy journey of communication. Consider this a sequel. 😀 Here goes…

1. Survey the situation. Outside of the usual be-polite-you-are-dealing-with-someones-heart-and-soul-book-baby, I always try to make sure the author and I are on the same page. I always ask what stage their manuscript is in and what type of feedback they desire so I can suggest changes accordingly. If I’m asked to read a book going to print next week and to keep an eye out for typos, prescribing story-altering changes would just be discouraging and out of bounds at that point.

2. Don’t expect perfection. I literally told an author to spell “academy” with two c‘s the other day. (*blushes* I know… :D) Fortunately, he has an editor who will catch such blunders. As a beta-reader, it’s not my job to pounce on every possible error in the author’s manuscript and stress us both out to the moon and back. (Leave that to the editor–mwahaha!) Beta-reading is really just an opportunity for me to point out story strengths and weaknesses before it’s in ink.

3. Keep in mind the author’s age and skill. I always want to respect those older than me and try to keep my tone from becoming instructional. I’ve only worked with a few men, but the same goes for them too. When I know the author is early on in their writing journey, I try to give more tips to help shape their style and grow their knowledge base for future projects. (And I do love those veteran authors–their projects are sooo easy!) 😉

4. Don’t be afraid to say “no”. Oh, I hate doing this! It feels like telling someone their baby was ugly or something. *whimpers* But sometimes there just isn’t time. Sometimes the project needs to be a little more finalized before I can read it. Sometimes there is content that goes against my conscience. And sometimes I just really need to focus on my own writing. It’s hard to say no, but I’m getting braver. 😉

5. Have fun! I have discovered some rare gems and new favorite authors from beta-reading! It’s also a great opportunity for me to let my inner-fangirl out of her cage when I know (#INFJskills) an author needs a little extra encouragement. Not that I drum up feelings that aren’t there, but I just make sure to show them. I comment when something’s quotable, sad, funny, etc. and even do a little friendly yelling when they pull off an evil cliffhanger. 😀 Because, admit it–especially when they are editing, authors need a little validation. 😉

There you are! Enjoy the trip, and I hope you find the tea!

What are some tips you’d like to share? Do you prefer beta-reading or advanced reading?

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Kate Willis

Kate (Willis) Hoppman is a follower of Jesus and lover of words. She enjoys quiet afternoons reading or watching movies with her nerdy husband, baking tall cakes, and hanging out with her family.

11 thoughts on “The Beta-Reading Tips at the End of the Universe”

    1. Great question! Beta-reading is before the book’s final edit and publication. It’s often called test reading. Advanced reading is when a reader gets a finished copy of the book to read and review before it’s available to the public. This is usually as part of the launch team. 😉


      Liked by 2 people

  1. Great tips. I’ll add one more. (You may have had this in the first post, but that-was-too-long-ago-to-remember-and-I-don’t-have-time-to-go-read-it.)
    Sometimes it’s easy to want to change the style of writing to match the way you would say something. It can be hard to remember that this isn’t your story. The style, the sentence structures and even little quirks in the writing are the unique voice of the author. As a writing teacher, I had to learn the fine line between bad writing and just a different style. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post! I’ve been book blogging for a little over a year now, and have strongly considered Beta-reading some, but this is the first time I’ve found another blogger posting about tips! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Stephanie! I just clicked over to your blog and enjoyed reading your review policy. It looks like you have your system down pat! If you get into beta-reading someday, I hope you enjoy it. 😉 Thanks for stopping by!


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