Your book is ready for beta readers. And, whether it’s your first book or not, this is a big deal!
You’re wondering, though, where to find these beta readers, how many you need, and what questions you should ask them to get the most benefit from their time and attention.
We’ve been there, and you have our warmest congratulations and shared excitement!
With that, welcome to our list of helpful questions for beta readers.
What is a beta reader?
For a working beta reader definition, we look at exactly what the beta reader agrees to do for the author, which is to offer constructive feedback on their book.
This feedback often comes in three forms:
- What is a beta reader?
- How to Find Beta Readers
- 13 Key Questions To Ask Beta Readers
- 1. Does the beginning grab your attention?
- 2. Was the genre of the book clear to you as you read the book?
- 3. Did you find any part of the book confusing?
- 4. Did any part of the book feel repetitive or laggy for you?
- 5. Did you find yourself skipping over content or skimming to hurry up?
- 6. Did you find the characters believable and relatable (especially the protagonist)?
- 7. Which characters did you connect to, and which, if any, did you dislike?
- 8. Did you think anything was missing?
- 9. What do you like best about the book?
- 10. Did the writing help or hinder your engagement with the story?
- 11. Did you notice any inconsistencies, factual errors, or other glaring mistakes?
- 12. Did the dialogue sound natural and hold your interest?
- 13. Was the end of the book satisfying for you?
How to Find Beta Readers
Before you go looking for beta readers, you should know roughly how many beta readers you need. It also helps to ensure that your chosen beta readers enjoy the genre of the book you’ve written.
And if you want less technical and more visceral feedback, focus more on readers of your genre than on fellow writers — though it can’t hurt to have feedback from both. Just don’t expect them to provide free editing services.
Here are some places to find beta readers for your book:
13 Key Questions To Ask Beta Readers
Here’s the AuthorityPub list of questions for your beta reader checklist:
1. Does the beginning grab your attention?
Does the first page make you want to turn the page and keep reading?. Better yet, do the first few sentences make you care about what comes next?
This is critical information. If your beta reader, who has agreed to read your whole book, doesn’t feel engaged from the first paragraph or two, readers with no such commitment to you or your book won’t bother reading beyond that.
2. Was the genre of the book clear to you as you read the book?
Could you tell that the book belonged to the genre the author has chosen? Or did you think at any point that the book fit another genre better?
If this is a story, does it have any of the usual tropes that go with the chosen genre? Or has the author tried to remake the genre by avoiding those tropes and writing something that would best be described as experimental or speculative fiction?
3. Did you find any part of the book confusing?
Were you confused at any point in the book about what was going on or what the author was trying to communicate? Did you get lost in the detail? Or was it ever not clear who was saying or doing what?
Did you ever find yourself wondering if the author would ever get to the point? Or was the presentation of their idea/s cluttered or ineffective?
4. Did any part of the book feel repetitive or laggy for you?
If this is a story, did it hit a lull for you at some point, and were you tempted to skip paragraphs or even pages, because your attention was wandering so much?
If this is nonfiction, did you ever think, “Okay, you already said this,” or “You could really boil this down into about half as many pages”? Did you find yourself wishing the author would either give you something new or end the book?
5. Did you find yourself skipping over content or skimming to hurry up?
Did you skip over content or skim over it (at least in parts) to speed up the reading, so you could “get it over with”? Was it because of the book itself — too much detail, irritating dialogue, etc. — or because you weren’t in the right headspace for reading it?
It could be a combination of both, but if you’re not the only beta reader skipping over parts of the book to finish more quickly, the author will want to know.
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6. Did you find the characters believable and relatable (especially the protagonist)?
Did you identify with the main character or with any of the characters in the book? Did you find the protagonist’s problem relatable and feel invested in what happened to them?
Or did something in the protagonist put you off and make it impossible for you to relate to them or to care about what happened? This leads to the next question:
7. Which characters did you connect to, and which, if any, did you dislike?
Did you identify with any of the characters? And what made it so easy to feel connected to them? Was it someone other than the main character?
Or were there any characters you disliked? Did your dislike for them ruin the story for you? Or did your dislike for them make you feel more invested in the protagonist’s fate?
8. Did you think anything was missing?
Were there any loose threads? Were you hoping to learn more about the protagonist or the antagonist and end up disappointed?
Or, for nonfiction books, did the author forget to answer a question they posed at the beginning? Or could the author have answered a question more completely, clearly, or convincingly?
9. What do you like best about the book?
What is it about this book that surprised or delighted you? What’s your biggest takeaway from it? And would you love to see more of this in the author’s next book?
If you’re a writer, is there something about this book you hope you can replicate in a work of your own? For example, was the main character’s arc surprising and more impactful than you expected?
10. Did the writing help or hinder your engagement with the story?
Did the author’s writing style or manner of expression add to the story or detract from it? Or, for a nonfiction book, did it make easy or difficult to understand what they were trying to communicate?
Did you find yourself wishing you could rewrite a sentence (or multiple sentences) to make it clearer or more elegant?
11. Did you notice any inconsistencies, factual errors, or other glaring mistakes?
Did you find errors that detracted from your enjoyment of the book? Were there factual or logical errors or inconsistences in the author’s defense of their point of view?
Or did you notice an inexplicable change in a character’s personality or manner of expression? Did anything make you do a double-take and think, “That doesn’t seem right.”
12. Did the dialogue sound natural and hold your interest?
Did the dialogue sound like it fit each character? And did it sound appropriate to the story’s setting (time and place)? Did it keep your interest or drag on in a way that made you wish the characters would stop talking?
Did it sound flat, predictable, or trite? Or did you find yourself smiling (or even laughing) as you read the dialogue, because you enjoyed it so much?
13. Was the end of the book satisfying for you?
When you reached the end of this book, how did you feel? Were you satisfied with the way the author ended it? Or did you feel a lingering dissatisfaction about something?
Or were you just disappointed that there was no more to read? Did you find yourself missing the characters already — and hoping for a sequel?
How with you use these questions for beta readers?
Now that you’ve read our list of questions for beta readers, which ones stand out to you the most — as a reader? Which ones made you think of something you’ve read recently?
Beta readers can give you a taste of the response you can expect from your ideal reader. So, even when you know those beta readers won’t be nasty if they find anything they don’t like, it’s still scary to share your work with them.
Scary but also exciting. You know you’re ready for this. Whatever your beta readers say is meant to help you improve your book — not to hurt you.
May you find the best beta readers for your book. And may their reviews help you become the author you want to be.