Beta readers are generally voluteers who provide feedback on the characters, character development, plot, world building, and development of the story. They report when something works for them, or doesn't work, and why or why not.
Beta readers are not (not!) editors or proofreaders! They're not responsible for correcting grammar, punctuation, spelling, etc., and they should get as clean a copy to work with as possible. Which isn't to say errors don't get missed in the editing process (as we all know!), but the writer shouldn't be relying on the beta reader to "fix" the manuscript; they're there to provide feedback on content. Mind you, every writer does it differently, but these are the basics that are pretty much understood.
If you are new to beta reading and not sure how it works, the last section on this page gives details and some youtube vlogs (vlog = video blog) by Jenna Moreci, that I use for my model for the process.
I've also just found this FABULOUS blog post on What is Not Required of a Beta Reader... PLEASE read, it'll give you a really good idea of what you don't have to do, no matter who you read for! As the author points out, you are a *volunteer* ...don't let anyone take advantage of you.
The process itself also varies from writer to writer. After much research, thought, and experimentation, here's what I've come up with for how I do it It's pretty straight-forward. I use StoryOrigin for my beta readers.
Using StoryOrigin: You create a free reader account there, and request to beta read the book. Once I approve the request, you'll be able to click on the book title, and see all the chapters available for beta reading. You start with the first chapter. When you have submitted feedback for that chapter, the next chapter will be unlocked for you to read.
Questions: There will be a set of 9 standard questions for each chapter, asking about the main characters, recurring characters, world building, etc. (see below this section for the actual questions).
Turn-Around Time: I generally request a turn-around time of 2-3 days per chapter, although I realize life happens! Just let me know if/when something comes up and there'll be a delay, so I don't worry I've lost you! With StoryOrigin, though, you don't have to wait for me to wake up and find your responses in email before receiving the next chapter, so that's a serious bonus for using StoryOrigin.
Facebook Group: I have a Facebook group for all my beta readers, so I can keep them updated with news, progress on the current manuscript(s), and general communication. Past and current beta readers are welcome. Joining is optional, but everyone is friendly!
(No, we're not there yet, but soon!
Title: A Witch in Time
Series: Wishes & Dreams Paranormal Romance series, book #6
Length: 100k +/- 10k
Heat Level: Mild (some sexual tension, no explicit love scenes)
Paranormal Elements: Shapeshifters, Djinn (genies), a few random mythologic creatures, and the mysterious innkeepers (magic unspecified)... and now, a witch who travels forward in time!
Setting: Hudson Valley, NY
Manuscript Status: I expect to have it finalized and polished, and ready to start going out to beta readers by October 2022
About to be accused as a witch in Salem Village, Rebecca calls on an old family heirloom for help.
You’ll find your favorite recurring characters, Katerina and Troy, Jacinth, Douglas & children, the mysterious Innkeepers, the irrepressible Remi, and more!
These are the 9 questions I have for each chapter in this manuscript:
1. What are your initial thoughts and impressions after reading this chapter?
2. Hero & Heroine: What are your thoughts on Liam and/or Naomi as they appear in this chapter?
3. Other characters in the chapter (if any): How do they come across to you? Is there enough introduction to recurring-but-new-to-this-book characters?
4. Scenes in the chapter: Does each scene work? Do you understand what is happening?
5. World Building: Does it work for you? Why or why not? Do you get a sense of time and place?
6. Were any parts confusing or inconsistent?
7. On a scale of 1-5, how much did you enjoy the chapter?
8. On a scale of 1-5, how eager are you to read the next chapter?
9. Do you have any predictions, i.e., guesses as to what will happen next or in the future? (optional... I leave this in because you all seem to like it so much, and it tickles me to see your predictions)
NEW TO BETA READING?
Okay, Jenna Moreci is my goddess of the Beta Reader process! She has a series of youtube vlogs on beta readers. It's from these that I'm basing my own beta reader process. Here's a comprehensive list of her vlogs on the subject. These are really fun to watch as well as informative, she's just fabulous! And yes! I will be using the specific questions she suggests! She'd done some older vlogs, but has started a new, more updated set of vlogs on the topic, the newest first:
Then these two older ones, which are also well worth watching: