Trying to get brave over here. Last summer I finished writing my first book, a cute little story about a boy named Hank and his summer adventures with his friend, Jake, all while visiting his Great-Aunt Leova and Great-Uncle Henry. Since finishing, I’ve let a couple of people read it, and have spent a good chunk of time revising it this fall and winter. The revisions and glaring things I needed to fix have wound down the last couple of weeks, and I’m feeling prompting and ready for the next step. *Deep breath*
If you’ve never heard the term before, a beta reader is a non-professional reader who will provide the author with feedback from an everyday reader’s point of view. Beta readers often help authors by pre-reading the manuscript and providing honest and constructive feedback. The thought of opening my book up to beta readers is a little intimidating, especially because this is my first book “baby.”
What am I looking for in a beta reader?
If this sounds interesting to you, here are some initial guidelines for who I’m looking for:
First and foremost, I’m looking for readers who are Christians. My book falls into the Christian kid-lit genre, and for this first book, I’m looking for feedback from readers who won’t also be questioning my theology, beliefs or values in the story. Questions from my readers about the way I tell the story are fully welcome, asking me to change my storyline or omit certain parts about God and faith is not.
Male readers. Or parents of boys who also enjoy kid lit. Or people who have had experience in Boy Scouts (or any volunteering with young boys). I need to know if this book would appeal to young boys, which are the main target audience. I’d really love any parents who would be willing to either let their 9-11 year old boys read it, or read it with them.
Anyone who enjoys Christian kid lit and can provide honest, yet constructive feedback, in a gentle way (remember, this is my first book baby!). For example, people who can ask questions about characters, plot, pacing, etc., will be much more helpful to developing the story than readers who make statements about it.
Following me so far?
If you fit the above criteria, and are interested in being a beta reader for me, I’d like you to consider the following areas of feedback that I’m looking for.
While you are reading, I’d like you to think about things like:
- Pacing, flow, storyline. Are there things that leave you confused or leave you wanting more information? Are there parts that don’t actually work together?
- Were there parts that made you laugh out loud, or cry, or scream? What were they? What was your most emotional response to the story?
- If it’s boring, tell me where I lost you.
When you’re done reading, I’d like to know:
- What was your favorite or most memorable part of the story?
- How did the characters make you feel? Did you know them? Did you like them?
- How did you feel when it ended? Did you still have questions? What were they?
You don’t have to write out answers to each specific question, but these are guidelines for the type of feedback I’m looking for.
If you’re still with me, a couple of questions to ask yourself before you sign up:
- Can I read the book and provide feedback within the allotted time?
- Can I concentrate on the bigger picture of characters, plot, and pacing, and not get hung up on smaller errors?
- Can I read with the guidelines above in mind, or would I prefer to just read the book? This is ok… I will probably not include you as a beta reader if you’d rather be a regular reader, though. 🙂
- If you know me personally, can you provide honest, thoughtful feedback and put aside any bias because we are friends? If you feel like being a beta reader might strain our friendship, then let’s just be friends instead. Our relationship is more important than my book.
In addition to meeting the above criteria, here’s what being a beta reader for me looks like:
- BOOK SPECS: Ditchwalk Estates is a kid lit novel, specifically Christian kid-lit, along the styles of The Sugar Creek Gang or The Hardy Boys. It tells the story of Hank and his adventures and his journey in faith one summer. It is just over 20K words, approximately 60 pages, and I’d rate it PG.
- I’m not looking for a proofreader or line-editor. I’m looking at big picture stuff here, but if you do find a grammatical error, or glaring plot hole or oversight, please make a note to me in your comments.
- You must be able to receive the book electronically. I can’t provide printed copies for everyone. I can provide Kindle, e-reader, or PDF versions.
- Agree to read and provide feedback within 2-4 weeks. If you don’t have time right now, but beta reading is interesting to you, let me know, and I’ll put you on my list for the next round, or the next book.
- Confidentiality. (Obviously.)
Still interested? Leave me a comment with your email address and I will be in touch.