“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.
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:
Is there an online community you would recommend for finding beta readers and soliciting critiques? #WQOTD
— K.M. Weiland (@KMWeiland)
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)
Critters Workshop (for Speculative Authors)
Online Writing Workshop (for speculative writers)
Women’s Fiction writer’s Association
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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