14 Beta Readers (and 1 Husband)

Over the past 6 months, I’ve learned that academic and fictional writing are dramatically different. The skills I have as an academic editor do not carry over well to the fictional world and in some case outright hinder me.

Luckily, I learned this lesson early on, so I cast a wide net for feedback. To date, I’ve had 15 people review my manuscript. All of those readers advanced the work in some way. I am deeply grateful to all of them for taking the time to read my work.

On one of the authors’ forums I hang out on, someone asked me how I got so many people to read through my work. Here’s what I did:

  • I asked my husband to read it
  • I asked 1 friend to read it
  • I posted on Reddit asking for a beta read trade — this post was downvoted, yet I got 3 readers from this. I learned to make this a 30-minute trade to start (I read their work for 30 minutes and they read mine for 30 minutes)
  • I posted fanfic to A03 and then replied to all comments asking commenters if they could take a look at my novel — I got 1 full read and 3 partial reads through this — these people consistently provided the most constructive feedback
  • I found a critique partner through an authors’ forum — this author’s input was fantastic (incredibly helpful)
  • I found another beta read trade through emailing an authors’ group about attending a meeting, and then incidentally just doing a beta read trade with the person I was corresponding with — this author’s input was also fabulous
  • I hired a paid beta reader to get feedback within the genre, as all of the readers I had up to that point were not actually romance readers (I’ll do a full post about that paid beta read another time).
  • I found one other beta read trade through an author support website that I ended up not staying with

In addition to this, I’ve hired a fictional editor to help me polish the manuscript, and I’m getting unbelievable feedback from her. I also submitted my story to an RWA competition, and I received feedback from 2 judges from the first round, and I will receive 2 more from the second round in a month’s time.

So, all in all, that’s feedback from 20 people.

A friend recently told me she feels bad if she asks for feedback from more than one person, like she is devaluing (or cheating on) her beta reader.

I don’t feel that way at all. Every single person who looked at my story helped me advance the work, some drastically and some subtly. I value them all.

I love my beta readers! I am grateful to all of them.

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