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When to Bring in Beta Readers

Beta reader–someone who gives you feedback on your book.

Beta readers and critique partners are an integral part of almost any writer’s process. They are the people who will give you honest feedback on your book and even help with revisions.

Where, if anywhere, during the process of querying and revising, do you see value of asking beta readers to read and comment on manuscripts? What are the pros and cons of engaging beta readers before querying agents, and what should one look out for?

–From Questions for the Blog

As early as possible.

If you plan to use beta readers I would most certainly bring them in before submitting to an agent. Remember, this is the stage where you want your book to be complete and as perfect as possible. If you believe a beta reader is part of that process bring them in before an agent sees the book.

The pros of a beta reader are having someone who has the distance to see things you might not see in your book.

The cons are of course having the wrong beta reader who has a vision different from yours for the book.

Overall though, getting someone you trust who is willing to give honest feedback is always invaluable.

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One comment

  1. My two cents (for what they’re worth) is to use critique partners early in your draft. Swap chapters as you go. They’ll help work out the kinks as you draft your ms. Once you have a manuscript that is drafted and had an edit, then send it to your beta readers. They’ll read the book as a whole.

    When you send it to your beta readers make sure you give them some specific things you are looking for as well as things they might pick up organically. For example, Does my opening have enough tension? Are there any words I overuse? Were you confused anywhere? Could you predict the ending?

    And, like Jessica said, make sure you send it to your beta readers before you start to query. You want your shiniest ms to go on query.

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