Posted by: nancycurteman | July 12, 2019

What is a Beta Reader?

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As authors we know that preparing a novel for publication involves more than the tremendous effort of getting ideas on paper. It involves many hours of rewriting based on editing. We edit our  book ourselves. We join critique groups and present chapters for members to edit. Some of us hire copy, line and/or developmental editors. These strategies enable us to polish our stories. There is another important strategy for perfecting our novels and that is the beta reader.

A beta reader is a person who reads a completed novel before it is published, and shares his or her reaction to it from the standpoint of someone who might purchase your book. Sometimes the beta reader is a friend or relative. Typically their only payment is reading your novel free of charge.

The beta reader will evaluate your story from the standpoint of enjoyment, emotional impact, and general readability. Sometimes they will edit errors they find, but their main task is to help you identify problems with readability. They can help determine the saleability of a manuscript.

 A good beta reader will improve your novel by simply noting her reaction to specific sections of the novel—hilarious, slow, heartrending, suspenseful, not realistic. She can tell you what they liked  or disliked about the characters and whether they were believable.

 In selecting your beta readers, try to find people who can give an objective and unbiased opinion. Consider readers from diverse backgrounds, genders and occupations.

 Beta readers represent the people to whom you hope to market your novel—your reading public. As such, their kind of input is essential.

More Tips:

Strategies for Rewriting Your Novel

How do Developmental Editing and Line Editing Differ?

Revising and Rewriting a Novel is no Mystery

How to Get a Chapter Just Right

Writing is Rewriting is Revising: 7 Ways


  1. Hi Nancy – a couple of typos in the third paragraph, last sentence: the word ‘can’ should have one ‘n’, and “saleability’ (not ‘salibility’). Perhaps a beta reader would help? 😉


    • Hi James,
      Thank you for offering proof of my point. Authors simply cannot edit their own writing well. They need editors and beta readers. I appreciate your great editing. Thanks for reading my blog.


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