Beta Reader

Will You Be A Beta Reader?
An author has worked with a critique group and rewritten his or her book, probably several times; it’s been reviewed, revised and edited; after years of effort, the book is ready to be sent out to the wider world.

There is, however, one other step in the process, a last pass before submission or publication. The author can have the manuscript read by a neutral third party, the beta reader.

What is a beta reader?      
A beta reader is someone who will read a story as if he or she had picked it off a bookshelf, and who will give the author feedback accordingly. You’ve heard of the beta tester who puts software through its paces, looking for bugs before release. That’s similar to what a beta reader does. However, the reader and the author get to decide the breadth and depth of the evaluation. Keep in mind that a beta reader is not a critique partner or editor.

A beta reader familiar with a particular genre or category, such as horror, fantasy or young adult, might choose a book in that genre, and knowledge of the conventions will help the author ensure the story is what readers of the genre expect. On the other hand, it’s a wide world out there, and an author might want to test the reaction of a general reader not wedded to a specific genre. The possibilities are numerous.
Sample questions that might be asked:
  • Did the story hold your interest? Or were there parts where you got bored?
  • Were the characters sufficiently compelling? Were they properly motivated?
  • Was the point of view consistent?
  • Were there any passages you found confusing and had to reread?
  • Did you notice errors of any kind?
  • Was the conclusion satisfying? Or did you feel there were loose ends left hanging?
Be honest:
Any author who asks for a beta reading should expect an honest reaction. In fact, that’s the whole point of this exercise. Compliments are great but a candid review is of greater value.

The Beta Reader Program:
Author Eligibility:  Author must be a CWC SF Peninsula member with completed book length fiction, nonfiction, memoir, poetry or short story collection.

Why Be a Beta Reader?
In the spirit of writers helping writers, please consider being a beta reader. Many members reading one book a year means support for many writers. And, it’s not all one-sided. A thoughtful analysis of a book is a learning experience for better writing. Plus you get to be one of the first to read a brand-new book.

Lisa Meltzer Penn’s book is ready and she is requesting beta readers. If literary novels with a magical realism twist are your thing, and you can read and respond to a 250 page manuscript by April 25 or so, contact Lisa for details at
Do you have a finished book ready for beta readers? If so, sign up here.