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Gigi Will Know: Where can I find good beta readers?

What if no one in your trusted inner circle is a writer?

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Dear Gigi,

I know it’s helpful to show trusted readers your work before submitting it for publication. But none of my friends and family are writers! Do you have tips for finding good beta readers elsewhere?

—Double Vision

 

Dear Double Vision,

Do you only want writers to read your book? No? You want everyone to read it and love it? Even – gasp! – people who watch television???

I think you probably understand what I’m getting at. Sure, you want some writers to take a look at your book, so they can help you to dissect what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong. But ultimately, you want people who read to take a look, too, so that you can be sure you’re actually hitting the population of people who make up most of the public.

 So that’s part one. Don’t just look for writers. Look for readers, too. You can find them almost anywhere, like probably within the set of people you’ve just dismissed as beta readers because they’re not writers. (It’s sounding pretty snobby to you now, isn’t it? I hope so.)

The second part of your question still stands: Where do I find writers who might be willing to take a look at my book? The answer is the same as it is for a lot of questions: The internet! If you’re not a part of any writer’s groups online, either at Facebook or Twitter, this is a good time to join them. You haven’t said what genre you’re writing in, either. Many genres have groups that you can join and then find beta readers through their membership. (The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, for instance, actually has a critique-group matchup that operates on a highly local level.)

Alternatively, if your community’s anything like mine, you might be able to find a writer’s group that way. Your local library is a good bet for this kind of posting; try there. I’d also mine your network a little more. It might just be that, although you don’t know any writers directly, friends or family might know of a writer who’s also looking for a beta read.

One final caveat: If you’re aren’t part of a group yet and you’re just joining, people will expect you to give a little before you take advantage of asking for a beta-read of your book. Lurk a little; get to know the membership; contribute to discussions – and then ask for a beta-read. Same for any writer’s group you join. Be expected to reciprocate in kind.

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Canapes and good manners,

—Gigi

 

Have a query about craft? Need some clarification on an aspect of the publishing industry? Looking for career advice? Email your queries to [email protected] with the subject line “Advice Column.” We can’t wait to read your questions!

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