Now that your manuscript is in the hands of your beta readers, it’s your job to provide them with some direction for giving you helpful feedback. Here’s how.
Without a guiding hand, the feedback you receive from your beta readers could be so scattered that you won’t know what to do with it. One of the best ways to keep things orderly is to write up a questionnaire for your beta readers to fill out once they’ve finished reading. This makes it a lot easier for you to compare opinions. It also tells you where you need to put your focus to improve your book.
If your brain is already racing with questions you’re dying to hear the answers to, get cracking. If not, here are some questions to get your brain working.
1. Did you find the plot easy to follow?
2. Were the characters believable?
3. Did you get a good mental image of the characters?
4. Was the dialogue believable?
5. Are there sections of the book you felt were rushed?
6. Are there sections of the book you felt dragged on too long?
7. Did the book flow well, or was it difficult to read at times?
8. Was there anything in the book that felt out of place?
9. Was there anything about the book you disliked or hated?
10. What, if anything, did you love about the book?
These are just a handful of suggestions for questions to ask. Feel free to come up with your own or expand on them as you see fit. Just don’t overwhelm your beta readers. Stick to no more than 10 to 15 questions. At the end, leave a blank space and encourage your readers to give you any additional feedback they felt may not have been addressed in your questionnaire.
Once the feedback comes in, try not to take it personally. Remember, your beta readers aren’t as invested in your book as you are. As the author, it’s impossible for you to be as subjective as your audience. It’s your baby. Of course you’re going to think it’s the most beautiful baby ever born. But if someone points out that it looks a little wrinkly, don’t take offense.
I recommend taking some time away from your manuscript after you hand it over to beta readers. Start working on another project while you wait, or spend some time reading other people’s works. Once all of the feedback is in from your beta readers, map out the changes and get cracking on your second draft.
Next up, read How to Get Your Self-Published Book into a Bookstore