As a fantasy writer, having beta readers is an invaluable resource to help you improve your manuscript before publication. Beta readers are trusted individuals who provide feedback on your work from a reader's perspective, offering insights into plot, pacing, characterisation and more. But how do you find reliable beta readers specifically for your fantasy novel? Here are some effective strategies to help you connect with trustworthy beta readers.
Order You Beta Reader Online
Join online writing communities and forums dedicated to fantasy writing. Platforms like Reddit, fantasy-focused Facebook groups or writing communities on Goodreads can be great places to find beta readers who have a genuine interest in the genre. Engage with the community, participate in discussions, and seek out beta readers who are actively looking to exchange feedback. If you find social media too oversaturated, polarised or uncomfortable, find an online platform dedicated to writing and beta reading. Websites like BetaReader.io, Scribophile or Wattpad's beta reading groups offer a platform for writers to connect with potential beta readers who are interested in providing feedback on manuscripts. Be sure to research and understand the guidelines and expectations of each platform before sharing your work.
Find Them in the Wild
Attend local writing workshops or join critique groups in your area that specifically cater to fantasy writers. These groups often provide opportunities to share your work and receive feedback from fellow writers who are well-versed in the genre. Look for writing organisations or community centres that offer workshops or writing circles and inquire about opportunities for beta reading exchanges.
Pester Your Friends
Reach out to fellow writers or just your friends who have an interest in fantasy literature. While your friends might not write, if they read they will have valuable insight. You end goal is to be read by readers, not just writers! Share your manuscript and ask if they would be willing to provide feedback as beta readers. There are a few drawbacks to this method. It is common advice not to use family, or even friends, as beta readers. I know my mum would not have a critical thing to say about me which isn't very helpful when looking for constructive criticism. On the flipside, those who don't create don't always appreciate the level of vulnerability sharing creations puts you in. Don't share your writing with someone at a formative stage if you feel receiving feedback will harm your relationship with them or your motivation to create.
Fish From Your Pond
Engage with your existing reader base, if you have one, through your author website, blog or social media platforms. Encourage readers who enjoy your work to become beta readers for your future projects. They may be excited at the opportunity to have early access to your new work and provide valuable feedback. This can also create a buzz for your project at the early stages of development.
Take it to the Next Level
Beta readers often are able to say when something is off, but may not be able to put their finger on why. Or if they can say why, their thoughts on how to fix it may not go deep enough. At this point, your manuscript is ready for a developmental edit. Beta reading before working with a developmental editor is great. It means you can enter the conversation with a clear idea of what you want out of the service! As a fantasy editor, I work best when I know what the author's end goal is.
When seeking beta readers, it's essential to establish clear guidelines and expectations. Provide a questionnaire or guidelines for feedback, specifying what aspects of your manuscript you would like them to focus on. Consider selecting beta readers who have experience in beta reading or who align with your target readership. You can read more about this in my blog post on what to expect from a beta reader.
Remember, finding reliable beta readers takes time and effort, but the feedback you receive can greatly enhance your manuscript's quality. Be open to constructive criticism and use the feedback to refine and strengthen your story. With a dedicated team of beta readers, you'll be well-equipped to take your fantasy novel to the next level before publication.