15 Places to Find Your Next Beta Reader

12 Places to Find a Beta Reader (Updated)

15 Places to Find Your Next Beta Reader“Where can I find a beta reader or critique partner?” Without doubt, that’s the second most frequent question I receive from writers, right after where do I find a good editor?. This can be a tough question to answer for the simple reason that a beta reader or critique partner isn’t someone you simply vet and hire, like you would a freelance editor. Rather, this is a relationship you build, just as you would build any important friendship.

7 Things to Look for in a Beta Reader

There are several keys to finding the right beta reader (and it is important to find the right one). You want someone who:

1. Enjoys your genre.

2. Understands your intentions for your stories.

3. Likes your stories (in general).

4. Isn’t afraid to tell you what isn’t working.

5. Is an experienced reader and/or writer (both bring important insights to the table).

6. Is reliable and trustworthy.

7. You like—and who likes you in return.

In short, when you’re looking for beta readers, what you’re really looking for is “your kind of people.”

How to Find a Great Beta Reader

Where do you look for these peeps? Local writing groups sometimes offer possibilities. But the Internet is by far your biggest beta reader resource.

Honestly, my best advice is to simply go where writers go (Twitter, Facebook, writing blogs, writing forums) and start making connections. When you find someone who you feel would be a good fit, offer to trade critiques. Eventually, the right person or people will rise to the top (and when they do, make sure you treat them right).

Still, that’s not the kind of answer most writers want. It is, after all, kinda vague—and there’s a lot of time and a little bit of luck involved. A few years ago, I decided to take this whole game up a notch by conducting an informal poll on Facebook and Twitter:

That was eight years ago, and although the list created from everyone’s suggestions has served us well, it felt like time to give it a refresh.

How You Can Help

Following is a list of the original suggestions I collated, both from the poll on social media and from the comments left on the original blog post over the years. But there’s room for more!

If you have a favorite resource for finding beta readers, please leave a link in the comments. I will update the post next week. You can check back then for an even more thorough resource.

Top Recommended Beta Reader and Critique Groups for Writers

First of all, let me just shout out the Writing Buddy Link-Up I run here on Helping Writers Become Authors once or twice a year. The comments section fills up fast, and the most recent post has 400+ comments from people seeking and offering critiques. I will be sharing another link-up in May for those interested.

You can also check out the following links to find a beta reader who suits your needs.

10 Minute Novelists (Facebook Group)

Absolute Write

Christian Writers

Critique Circle

Critters Workshop (for Speculative Authors)

Fantasy-Writers.org

KidLit 411

Lit Reactor

Online Writing Workshop (for speculative writers)

Scribophile

The Shit No One Tells You About Writing Podcast (runs a beta reader match-up every few months for small admin fee)

Spire Beta Matching (costs $10)

Women’s Fiction Writer’s Association

Writing.com

Now What Do You Do?

You’ll need to do some research (aka, poking around) to discover which site is the right fit for you. Remember, finding a good beta reader is often as much about being a good beta reader yourself as anything else. Be prepared to give generously, use wisdom in selecting appropriate groups and partners, and take advantage of this resource to help you polish your writing to the next level.

Wordplayers, tell me your opinion! Do you have beta readers? If so, where did you find them? Tell me in the comments!

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About K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland

K.M. Weiland is the award-winning and internationally-published author of the acclaimed writing guides Outlining Your Novel, Structuring Your Novel, and Creating Character Arcs. A native of western Nebraska, she writes historical and fantasy novels and mentors authors on her award-winning website Helping Writers Become Authors.

Comments

  1. dgoodalltracy says

    I found my best beta reader through the podcast The Shit No-one Tells You About Writing. They run a beta reader match-up every few months for a small admin fee.

  2. Is it better to stick within a platform that you know is safe and whose feedback you trust for beta edits (but may be less professional), or should you branch outside the platform to people you don’t know as well (but have more experience)?

    • What’s the safe platform you have in mind? And where would one find these experienced strangers? I’d take either (after many years of disappointments and wasted time).

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      It’s really a personal choice. If you’re happy with the quality of critiques you’re receiving via a more informal platform, then there’s no reason you have to look elsewhere. But it can be worthwhile to dip your toe in new waters just to see if you find a good fit.

      • I’ve been writing all my life, close to eighty years and still desperately need a writing buddy to share critiques with and opinions about parts of my writing I want to question. I’m mostly interested in improving my short stories for women. I’d class my stories as general, but one could be classed as horror.
        ‘Who’s There’ is about a middle-aged woman ,living alone, in an unfamiliar area, was stalked, after an incident in the library.
        If you, or anyone you know is interested in becoming my writing buddy, please let me know. Please mention ‘writing buddy’ in the subject box’?My aim is to get my stories up to publishable standard.
        Thank you
        Metta

        • Michelle says

          WRITING BUDDY

          Horror, dark comedy, and suspense writer here. I would be interested in sharing critique, reading, and general encouragement.

        • Terri Lorrain-Belik says

          Hello Metta, If you’re still looking, I’d be happy to engage with you. I’m a 65-year-old budding novelist in the mystery genre.

  3. John D Warfield says

    Still poignant after eight years, though I supposed in the broad scheme eight years isn’t that long….

    I have been sharing with your Writing Buddy Link-Up and have received (and hopefully) given some excellent pointers, suggestions, and overall critique that might have saved my novel.

    Beta reading can be like any other shared experience. If you seek to give more than receive, you might find yourself playing catch-up.

  4. I’m a member of two groups. For general fantasy, I belong to fantasy-writers.org (that’s the url). I’ve been a member there for almost 15 years. I’m also a member of a Christian Writer’s discord. If you are interested in that, reach out to theandyclark (at) hotmail (dot) com.

  5. I am a member of Absolute Write, on your list, but it does not help me for betta readers (it helps me with other writing issues which I can ask in English), because my books are not in English. When I needed a betta reader, I asked on the FB reading groups from my country for volunteers. Some of the issues they raised were really useful. I have also a betta reader from the NaNoWriMo local city group, who became my friend.

  6. My technique for getting a solid group of beta readers:

    1) Sign up to the email newsletter of indie authors in the right genre so I get notices when they’re looking for new beta readers (this might work with traditionally published authors too, though they’re much less likely to recruit beta readers through email lists)
    2) Join their beta reader team
    3) Get to know their other beta readers
    4) When you need beta readers, contact them

    This is a way to get beta readers who read the right genre, have some experience, and have already shown themselves to be helpful. If there isn’t time to wait for an author to recruit beta readers, I’d consider contacting an author directly for references to beta readers they’ve found helpful, though I’ve never tried this myself.

    Bonus: if you’re a beta reader for a more established author, that author will owe you a favor. Maybe they’ll beta read you manuscript with an experience eye, or help you market, or give you advice about further resources.

    (It’s also my opinion that being a beta reader on someone else’s manuscript is ultimately more educational than having beta readers go through mine)

    Unfortunately, due to an unusual situation, I’m going to be looking for new beta readers soon yet I’ll be unable to take my own advice. I’ve put together an alternative plan for finding beta readers (basically, I’m going to contact people who I consider to be Ideal Readers even if they aren’t writers and hope some of them are excited enough about the concept to beta read) but I don’t know if it’s going to work.

  7. I use two of the groups you mention–Critique Circle and Scribophile. I find both excellent except for one little thing.
    While there are some authors who regularly critique my posted work, and whom I critique in return, there are some who will just crit the odd chapter. This can be a problem as sometimes they complain of something being confusing that has been made clear in previous chapters.
    I had unfortunate experiences with beta readers I found online. One received my book and I never heard from her again, and the other started reading and commenting, then she emailed me to say she was busy with her degree and so, although she would still beta read, would I mind waiting for a while. I agreed, but never heard from her again.
    Thus, in spite of the problem mentioned above, I prefer critique groups. And critiquing other’s work, I think helps me improve my own writing.

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Accountability is important. Beta reading is a huge time commitment and not everyone who agrees can carry it out.

  8. I’ve only used beta readers once and it seems I should have waited for this post. I used close friends and a family member, and all of them wanted the manuscript printed, which was expensive. One never got it back to me, and the other two couldn’t help with elements of story structure. What they did help me with was ‘does this make any sense,’ which in the long run was invaluable. But that, I suspect, is what an alpha reader should be doing for me.
    So maybe something that should be part of working with beta readers is making sure they can provide what you need them to do? I think I’m going to have to get back into a critique group and use these resources provided here. (I’m just not a fan of social media connecting.)
    Thank you for another valuable post!

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      Family and friends can be great at beta reading, but it’s usually best to find some beta readers who are not related. Not only can this help ensure the readers are more objective, but it can also help you find people who are more in alignment with your target reader group.

  9. Off topic but I hope allowed.

    I happen to think that a child’s arc is not all that flat. The child has an apotheotic point where he/she steps into the maiden arc. That point, of course, is puberty. I’d like to hear whether you agree or not.
    Regards.
    Currently, keeping busy with a screenplay an a child protagonist…
    Joe C

    • K.M. Weiland | @KMWeiland says

      There’s certainly room in all the interstitial periods for additional Change Arcs. However, the point of the Child, as I present it, is a Flat Arc because of its narrative focus is on sharing Truth and creating change in supporting characters.

  10. Larry Keith says

    I cast my vote for face to face critique groups that meet regularly (at least a couple of times per month).

    Before I moved to Florida a couple of years ago, I was a member of a critique group that met twice a month. The process was:

    1. Distribiute hard copies of your work.
    2. Read the scene or segment ( five pages, double spaced max).
    3. Each attendee provided verbal feedback along wiith written comments.
    4. The copies were returned to the author.

    The first 6 – 8 people who signed up got a critique. If there were more readers, they were given preference for the nextr meeting.

    We had a strong group leader who kept things on-track. For instance, if she noticed that a member did not read regularly, she asked them to bring something for the next meeting. So, we all got to enjoy the critiques. 😎

    Normally there would be 12 to 15 attendees and it was a diverse group. So the reader got 11 to 14 critiques in about 2.5 hours and had written comments to take home and review/use.

    Then we quit and went to a restaurant for food and drink along with a nice social hour.

    It was a great experience for a beginning writer because it exposed me to writing that I would never have selected on my own. And the members’ varied backgrounds provided viewpoints about my work that amazed me. I learned that young people didn’t share my life experiences and did not see things exactly like I did. And, I can go on and on..

    I partcipated with that group for eight years or so. I really miss them!

  11. I often find people I share favorite books with often make good beta readers for my work.

  12. potterrosiej says

    I’m in a great Discord server called We Write At Dawn with over 2500 members. There are places to find Alphas/Betas/CPs and even critiques on small sections instead of whole manuscripts. It’s easier for some genres than others to find readers, but this is where I’ve found all my readers so far and where I find people to read for as well. There are quite a few other writing Discord servers with similar options for finding people to read for you, too! And Facebook groups as well. (also, sorry if a similar comment posts twice. It doesn’t look like my first one sent though.)

  13. E.A. Torres says

    Has anyone tried the Spire Beta Matching, or know of anyone who has?

    I was reading into it, and aside from paying a small fee, their system seems interesting. I’ve been using betareader.io, but the website’s clunkiness can be a little frustrating at times.

  14. exquisiteamy says

    There’s one I like to use. They’re pretty new, but I’ve found some helpful Betas there. http://www.litcraftsolutions.com

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