One of my great writing buddies, Patricia Lynne, wrote a blog post yesterday about the difficulty of finding good beta readers (Insecure Writer’s Support Group). Within the comments, someone recommended offering gift cards, free books or free iTunes songs in exchange for someone reading your early work.
Needless to say, this idea did not sit very well with me. It felt very much like the authors who were paying for 5 star reviews. How do you know you’re getting honest feedback and not just people looking for free stuff? Are there honest people out there who will really follow through in order to receive their “gift”? Of course, but there are also those who will decide “Meh I don’t want to finish this so I’ll just tell them it was great so I can get my gift card.”
One of the great things about the writer community (it seems Indie or traditional) is that writers help each other. They offer to be beta readers for one because they know when they need a reader for their own work, that author will turn around and be ready to read for them. It’s a “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine” kind of relationship, but not only that, most authors love to read so they’re are excited to be able to read an early version of something and get to brag about it to others.
A beta reader should take their job seriously because others are depending on their honest feedback. It’s not just a chance to read a book; someone is depending on your response and comments and suggestions. If you don’t think you’ll have the time or that the book won’t interest you, thank the author but decline. I guarantee they would prefer to be turned down in the beginning than wait and wait for a response from you that will never come or a comment much later saying you decided you didn’t have the time for it.
Beta readers should be those who love to read and are willing to put in the time to help make your book better. If you’d like to reward them in some way, you can promise them a mention in your acknowledgement pages. An avid reader would love to see their name in a book!
How do you attract your beta readers?