In this episode we’re going to talk how to find and use Beta readers to massively improve your book.


Beta readers are SO important! But most authors I talk to don’t use them. Why?

So let’s dive into finding them, and maximizing their power.

What is a Beta Reader?

  • Term comes from the software development world. A beta tester is someone who uses an unfinished version of a program to find the bugs.
  • We had a beta period for MyBookTable where we got lots of feedback on how to make the plugin better.
  • They give you feedback on your story … early!

Why Beta Readers?

  • Fresh eyes, you’re not objective. Neither are most spouses.
  • Beta readers help you see your story from another set of eyeballs.
  • Test audiences for films. Pretty Woman

Not all BRs are created equal.

Determine Your Perfect Beta Reader/Develop a Profile

  • Age?
  • Gender?
  • Why do they read? (Why do you write? We’ve talked about this.)
  • What type of stories do they gravitate toward in books, movies, TV shows?
  • Do they like giving reviews on Amazon, Rotten Tomatoes, etc? Are they someone who can easily express how they felt about a book or show?
  • Fans of your genre

Finding & Choosing Beta Readers

  • Facebook, Twitter, your email list. LinkedIn.
  • Be careful, you might end up saying no to a lot of folks.
  • Go to the social media sites where they hang out.
  • Ask your super fans.
  • Goodreads  
  • Sometimes friends and family are great, sometimes people who aren’t emotionally invested in you are better.
  • Kickstarter backers! People who pay extra for early access can be great beta readers.
  • Can they be honest?
  • If they’re not a friend, and a writer, offer to swap reads
  • Be careful using other writers though …
  • Start following people you think fit your profile. Set up at least 25, then cull them down to your top 15.
  • Pick people who read in your genre.
  • Pick people who DON’T read in your genre.
  • Google Docs or Word?

How Many?

  • It depends. Somewhere between three and thirty
    • 5 Alphas
    • 30 Betas
  • Why? Some won’t finish. A larger sample size.
  • Jim’s Alpha readers
  • Reminder, They’re Not Editors


The Tax and Business Guide for Authors

In this course you will learn how to qualify for tax deductions for your writing-related expenses (not all writers qualify) and about 19 tax deductions authors can take advantage of.  Our very own Thomas and his dad Tom Umstattd a CPA who has over 35 years of experience working with authors.

Learn more at

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Once You Have Them

  • What do you want them to do?
    • Theme? Pacing? Character feedback? Story arc?
    • Continuity (especially for epic fantasy)
    • Let them choose.
  • Also …
    • Develop a simple one sheet where you ask them specific questions.
      • How many pages did you read in your first sitting?
    • Give them a deadline.
    • Whatever They Say, Accept it Graciously, and DON’T ARGUE!
    • If three or more say the same things … listen!
    • But don’t listen to everything, in the end it’s YOUR book.
    • Thick skin time. They’re there to help.
    • You don’t have to use them again, but don’t risk losing a potential friend.

Thank Them

  • Figure out what you’re going to give in the way of thanks. Free copy of the book, of course. What else?
  • Acknowledgement in the book goes a long way, so does a Starbucks gift card.
  • Thank them on social media.
  • Credits in addition to acknowledgements


Huge thanks goes out to Peter DeHann for being a Novel Marketing patron! Peter is the author of, Women of the Bible: The Victorious, the Victims, the Virtuous, and the Vicious, where Peter explores how God really feels about women, and brings a fresh perspective that will help you celebrate your victories, embrace your virtue, have more compassion for victims, and avoid the errors of the vicious.

Thank you to all our Patrons … we could NOT do this show without you.

And if you’d like to help us out for as low as $2 per month we will love you forever … or at least for a month … you get discounts on all our products, a monthly Patrons only Q & A episode where you get to send in your questions … as well as other goodies. Go to Novel Marketing dot com, look at the buttons along the top and you’ll see one that says, “Patreon”. Click it!

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