Beta readers aren’t quite as elusive as Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster, but if you don’t know where to look for them, they can be really hard to find.
If you read my previous blog post What Are Beta Readers, and Do You Really Need Them? you at least know what they are. Now here are some pointers on how and where to find them.
1. Look to your peers.
Often, the best beta readers are other writers. If you know any, ask them first. If you don’t know any, consider joining some social groups where you can talk to others who share your passion for writing.
2. Writing groups.
If you belong to any writing groups of communities, whether online or in person, this should be your next stop.
3. Friends and family.
Friends and family don’t always make the best beta readers, but if that’s all you have, work with it. Make a list of everyone you know who likes to read. Next, narrow down your list to people who like to read books in your specific genre.
4. Aim for 3 to 5 beta readers.
This gives you a diversity of opinion and helps you identify trends. For example, if four of your beta readers tell you the pacing is slow, you’ll know for certain that’s something to address in revisions.
5. Pop the question.
Ask nicely, and phrase it in a manner that sounds appealing and not like a boring homework assignment. “Big up” the contribution they’ll be making.
6. Offer something in return.
Tell your beta readers that to express your appreciation, you will give them a free copy of the book when it's published. Many authors also list the names of their beta readers on the acknowledgements page as a gesture of thanks.
7. Return the favor.
If you’re asking other writers to be your beta readers, offer to return the favor by reading their book. You might be surprised to find you’re not the only author on the hunt for beta readers.
8. Choose wisely.
Select people who are willing to commit to reading your entire book. Pick those you believe will actually follow through.
Now that you have you’ve finalized your list of beta readers, it’s time to share your book with them. But before you email them a copy of your latest rough draft, read What Do I Do with Beta Readers Once I’ve Found Them?