What are Beta Readers and Do You Need One?

If you’re an Indie author, you’ve probably had many moments where you began doubting your writing abilities. Going it alone means doing it with absolutely no guidance, advice, and some of those other perks trad authors might be fortunate enough to have. Yet, being an Indie author doesn’t mean that you can’t seek constructive feedback about your work. Beta readers provide Indies with valuable writing advice. Betas can also function as preliminary marketing “street team” members via social media and other important platforms. So what are beta readers anyway?

What Beta Readers Are

Beta readers are book lovers who enjoy reading works by up and coming authors. They also love getting free books and giving their opinions about them. And that’s the key thing to remember here – beta readers usually have strong opinions and Indie authors need to be aware of this beforehand.

What Beta Readers Are Not

Beta readers are not your friends or relatives. Asking friends and relatives to critique your WIP will rarely, if ever, work out. This route will usually go one of two ways: They’ll love your book because they love you or they’ll be filled with “constructive” criticism because they love you. You want genuine, honest, unbiased opinions about your manuscript and you’re probably not going to get that from your best friend or your mom.

Do You Need a Beta Reader?

If you’ve been plugging along daily on your manuscript, but you’re having doubts about your character development, plot, tense, pacing and/or dialogue then you could definitely benefit from a beta reader’s input. If you think you’re done writing, and you’ve gone over your manuscript several times with a fine-tooth comb, but aren’t quite ready to send it to an editor (who will charge you a tidy sum for the effort) then you might wish to seek out a beta reader. Since almost all beta readers do not charge for their services (some do, however) it’s an excellent opportunity for Indies to get some free feedback, so why would you pass that up?

How to Find a Beta Reader

These are just four simple and FREE ways to find a qualified beta reader:

  1. Put out a call for beta readers via social media
  2. Comb Amazon reviews for reviewers in your genre
  3. Add a “call for beta readers” post on your author blog or website
  4. Ask other authors to recommend their favorite beta readers

By the way, did you notice #2 on the list? Please, please find beta readers who are familiar with, and enjoy reading, your manuscript’s genre. Both parties will be sorely disappointed and frustrated if your book’s genre isn’t a mutual matchup.


I hope you’ve found some value in this post. If you need any advice about finding a beta reader, editor or book marketer please let me know. I’m happy to help!