I wanted to ask for beta readers for my 2nd draft when I'm finished and I don't know how to go about picking them/distributing my work. I just wanted to know how you send chapters to people, format questionnaires, etc. Just everything I can do on my end to get the best feedback possible. Thanks!
About The Beta Reader Process.
First off, if you haven’t read this post regarding beta readers you should probably take a look at it!
Some other things to consider:
1. Beta reading takes time and energy. While many readers can finish a good book in a single day, when it comes time to give chapter by chapter feedback, the majority of readers can only handle 10-15k words a week, and half of those will have one or two weeks were they’re sick or preoccupied and can’t beta read at all. Keep that in mind when you plan your schedule.
(Note that a beta reading round is a really good time to take a nice long break and write something entirely different!)
2. Screen your beta readers first. Having applicants beta read your first chapter before you accept saves the time and energy of both you and the reader because:
- It weeds out anyone who doesn’t want to put in the effort or doesn’t have the time or energy for a beta read.
- It allows readers to familiarize themselves with your writing style and the story so they can decide if it’s the right fit for them.
- It lets you to identity readers who may not be your target audience, or who may wish your story was something that it’s not.
3. Write your questionnaires as you edit. This way you don’t overwhelm yourself trying to write them all at once, you know everything worth noting in that chapter, and (most importantly) you know the specific things you weren’t quite sure your editing smoothed out so you can include those in your questionnaires.
Beyond that, here is a (in no way complete but still incredibly useful) list of things to utilize when devising beta reader questionnaires:
- Does the story flow on a sentence level?
- Does the way it’s narrated give you clues into the PoV character’s personality?
- Can you feel the PoV character’s emotions through the narration?
- Is the narration immersive?
- Can you visualize all the characters (as well as is normal for you)?
- Can you differentiate between them, both in appearance and personality?
- Can you pinpoint the main characters’ goals and/or desires?
- Do you relate to any of the characters?
- Are you interesting in knowing them better or seeing them interact further?
- Do any characters feel flat?
- Do the character’s relationships feel natural? Can you decide them?
- Does the dialogue feel natural? (If not, in which places is it stunted?)
- Do the topics of conversation flow?
- Do the characters seem to have their own voices or does everyone sound the same?
- Can you picture the setting well enough?
- What does the setting imply about the world as a whole?
- What does the PoV character feel about the setting?
Worldbuilding [not all are applicable for every story]:
- Do you have some basis for the level of technology and cultural influences of this world?
- What is the magic system composed of?
- Are there any rules, customs, or standards specific to this world?
- What is the political atmosphere like, and who holds the most control within it?
- Do you have an idea of where the story is going from this point?
- What challenges might the characters face while trying to reach their goals?
- Does the pacing at the scene/chapter/arc level feel natural? Where is it dragging or abrupt?
- Have you noticed any plot holes?
- Does the story seem to have any prominent themes?
- Is the plot forcing the protagonist to develop? How so?
- How connected to this story do you feel? What produced this connection or lack thereof?
- How interested are you in continuing reading? Why or why not?
To be clear, don’t simply copy and paste these questions into your beta reader forms. Translate the questions in a way with makes sense for your story, plot, and characters. :)