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 (ideally) 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 greatest 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 will 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. So I decided to take this whole game up a notch. I conducted an informal poll (via my daily Writing Question of the Day–#WQOTD–on Facebook and Twitter)
Writing Question of the Day: Is there an online community you would recommend for finding beta readers and soliciting critiques? #WQOTD
— K.M. Weiland (@KMWeiland) February 18, 2016
Following is the list of responses I received, in alphabetical order.
Top Recommended Beta Reader and Critique Groups for Writers
Now What Do You Do?
The only one of these sites with which I have any personal experience is Christian Writers, and that was many years ago. You’ll need to do some research (aka, poking around) to discover which site is the right fit for you. Some of the Facebook groups are invitation-only, so if they interest you, you’ll need to submit your application for approval.
Remember, finding a good beta reader is often as much about being a good beta reader yourself as it is 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.