The Sunday Session…What Are Your Thoughts On…

Beta readers. How many is too many? How many is too little?

I’m nowhere near the beta reader stage but after a related conversation with a friend earlier on in the week, I started thinking how many would be enough.

Seeing as I’ve never needed to acquire betas I don’t have any thoughts on this. So for those of you who HAVE used them, please share your experiences πŸ™‚

About Virginia

Writer, reader, crossword puzzler and conspiracy theorist.

11 Responses to “The Sunday Session…What Are Your Thoughts On…”

  1. I haven’t used any, yet, but I know one thing…..I will be having non writing ones as well as writers πŸ˜‰

    I recently heard someone say that your Beta readers shouldn’t be very good friends, that seems to make sense too!

    Good luck honey xx


  2. I don’t have proper beta readers yet, so your question is a good one! I do have some writers reading my revised chapters though, some to critique them and some for bigger picture thumbs up or thumbs down feedback. It’s been really helpful to consider their comments, and I was surprised by how much the story benefitted from even the smallest bit of feedback.
    Personally, I don’t usually let anyone read my first drafts though. I need to see the story as a whole from start to finish before I make any major decisions about its direction.
    I’ll be checking back here to see what others contribute to this discussion!


    • I’m also very particular about letting people read my unfinished work however as my WIP is progressing I’m happy to hear constructive criticism. It’s all part of the game isn’t it? πŸ™‚


  3. Sorry, Virginia – I’ve never used a beta reader. In fact, I didn’t know what they were until I read this bog πŸ˜€ I had to look it up on Wiki (how embarrassing!).

    I usually wait until my novels are in (what I think is) a publishable state and then send them out for proofing (with family and an editor I know). Now I’m thinking – I wouldn’t mind being a beta reader, it sounds like a good thing to do πŸ™‚


    • LOL Dianne, I didn’t know what a beta reader was before I started blogging either πŸ™‚ The question is, if this is the pre-editor reading, who would you nominate to be a beta? As mentioned above, its wise to steer clear of good friends but who else would want to read a large piece of work for nothing?? πŸ™‚


      • I know who can read work for nothing, but not a large piece (only up to 7,000 words at a time), but you can stagger the entire novel over several submissions. This is You Write On. Com. You put your work up there and every time you review someone else’s work you get a point and this point goes to someone reviewing your work. I usually put the first few chapters of any new work I’ve got up there because it’s a great help for picking out bugs and inconsistencies. I’ve also won places in the top ten a few times and received a couple of Best New Author reviews from Orion which were excellent. The reviewers can be pretty harsh sometimes, but you need that because family and friends will mostly go very easy on you. If you ever go in there my user name is Zigotide πŸ™‚


      • Dianne, I just found your comment in my spam folder! Not sure why it went there! Thanks for the link, will look you up when I get there πŸ™‚


  4. I have had people read my work before putting it out for public viewing. Of all of the pre-publish reads, only one was ever worthwhile in terms of notes and feedback. Other readers gave little suggestions or the ambiguous ‘I like it.’ So, the most important thing I have learned is that you must select good readers, who will objectively look at your work. The second most important thing is to Objectively listen to the advice they provide. I would suggest (humbly) maybe two or three readers. That ought to cover all of your bases.


    • Steve, were these people friends? I mentioned in the reply to Dianne above, if its a good idea to not have good friends read the work then who else would you trust with it?


      • I have had a both friends and acquaintences read my work as beta readers. I found (in my own personal experience) that the acquaintance provided more objective and detailed notes on the work.

        Honestly, I also find my wife to be an outstanding source of objective feedback. She is not typically interested in Science Fiction/Steampunk/Fantasy (you know with like Elves and stuff..) However, that lack of interest in the genre gives her the perspective to be able to see past genre tropes (Elves, Dragons…) to see straight to the heart of the characters and storyline, and she will tell me what is wrong with the story, what parts worked or did not work.

        Here’s my theory, if the person is removed from yourself and/or your work, they have an untainted view of the work. They come to it fresh, just like any other reader. There are no potential hang-ups of a friend keeping silent about something because they do not wish to hurt your feelings. There is less chance for bias.

        Of course everyone’s experiences will differ. You may have a friend who will give you the unfettered truth (good or bad πŸ™‚ ) and you will be able to press on from there.

        As for your question ‘…who else would you trust with it?’ My answer is: Anyone.

        Caveat: They need to be competent reader/editor types with a love of reading. So, you should trust their professionalism and/or credentials. Because if they are a good editor type, they will not make any personal comments regarding the work. They will provide you with technical feed back (grammar, sentence structure), Plot flow/Plot holes, readability etc..

        I feel that as a writer, I need to be able to take my finished work and hand it over to a complete stranger (see caveats). Because if the goal is to be a published (tradition or successful indie) at some point you are going to have to hand over the manuscript to someone you do not know terribly well and trust them to Represent it (and you), Publish it, Market it.

        Is this easy? Certainly not. You have poured your time, energy, emotion and portions of life into the work. One teacher said that it (handing over a manuscript) was an experience like giving your child over to someone else’s care for a while.

        Ultimately it is your work. You are in control of who sees it and in what context. If you do not feel like handing your MS over to a relatively unknown person and you trust the quality of feedback from a friend, then that is the route you should take.

        I hope this helps!


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