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Wanted: Beta Reader & Critique Partner

How Does an Aspiring Author Find a Beta Reader or Critique Partner?

     I am my own worst critic. We all know that a fresh brain and a fresh pair of eyes critiquing our manuscript will find errors that we overlooked. We are too close to our own work to objectively review it and give ourselves constructive criticism and productive advice. We can read another author's work and immediately  find areas that  are filled with information dump or that need more action or suspense. We just don't see it in our own work. We can't, we have far too much invested in it.

     I have read so many blog post where one author raves about their beta reader or their critique partner and I love reading the post filled with gratitude from one writer to another for helping them on their long and rough journey toward publication. 

     I am constantly searching the Internet for writing tips, query tips and other useful advice. I am pretty sure that I am going to retain the services of a professional to review and edit my manuscript before I send it to an agent, and this is all assuming that my dreaded query letter even piques the interest of a literary agent and they request more of my manuscript. I have not thoroughly researched the cost of this service, but I am sure it is expensive. To me it is a cost I can justify.

     To be honest, I am not even sure I know what a beta reader is? I have been able to deduce from the articles and post that I read, and I have a general idea. I know this much. I want one!

     How Do You Find a Beta Reader? How Do You Find a Critique Partner?

     Assuming you know where to look for a beta reader or a critique partner, then what? How do you choose one? Or better yet, how do they choose you? How do you find the right match? What assurances do you have that this person will read what you send them and actually critique it? What guarantees do you have that you will be compatible?

     Too bad we cannot just go to an on-line data base and search through the ads. You know like a person does when they are looking to buy a home or a car. Data bases exist for everything else. We search data bases filled with pertinent information when looking for employees, housekeepers, dog walkers, babysitters and roommates.  We can even access data basis, if we wanted to, to search for egg, sperm or embryo donors.

     We can access a plethora of on-line data basis to find our significant other or spouse. If a data base can successfully match hundreds of thousands of happily ever after couples based on questionnaires designed to find that perfect compatible person out there who shares your unique likes, dislikes, interest, hobbies, morals, and lifelong goals, surely there could be a data base to match like minded writers to one another.

     I did a basic Internet search and found someone else who is interested in creating just such a matching service Read her article here. Sarah E. Olsen

      I turned cartwheels in my living room until I read the first comment. It just happened to be from someone who had already attempted such to create a similar place. Crit Partner Match, was created by Kait Nolan. It was then that I realized just how much work, effort, computer skills, software skills and money it would take to create a successful data base designed to match readers and writers in an effective and successful  "Critique Partner and Beta Reader Matching Service." 

     This is what Kait Nolan said it would take to develop a Critique Partner and Beta Reader Matching Service:

     What’s needed is some kind of database set up that would allow writers to search based on those various parameters to narrow down the list–obviously without a programming degree, this isn’t something that would be easy or free to do.

     What do you think? How hard would this be to generate? I would love to hear from those of you who have beta readers and or critique partners. How did you find them? Does anyone have a particularly good story to share? Any horror storied you want to share with us?


Murees Dupè said...

Sorry I didn't mention your name in my post because you were my 100th follower. In my latest post, I immediately rectified that by posting your name and link in that post. Truly I am very sorry.

As for beta readers I chose two friends of mine who were very critical as well, my sister who is a die hard romance fan and my brother who writes scientific articles. Each and everyone were ready to pick me apart. My brother also served as my critique partner and let me tell you, he doesn't do me any favours. He is brutal because he is a perfectionist.

A professional editor is expensive, but like you said money well spent. Just make sure you get a good one. I personally still struggle to edit my own work as well. Editing is my least favourite part about the writing process.

You can also keep your ears open for one of your fellow bloggers that you know well to either become a beta reader or critique partner, as I know some of them go that route.

Best of luck.

Marsha Sigman said...

I'm still hopping around in Alex' insecure writers group. So hello, fellow insecure writer.ha

A few author blogs have set up temporary matching services in the past for aspiring writers but nothing long term. You could join a group organization based on what you write and find beta readers in the forums. I write YA so I belong to SCBWI but there are groups for every genre. Google it. is a great place too.

Or you can read and comment on blogs (a lot) and build relationships with other writers. When you find someone you feel is a good fit then just ask if they are interested. There are never any guarantees but it really helps to have a fresh pair of impartial eyes read your work. Good luck!!

Laura said...

I have just offered to be a Beta Reader to someone who's work (contemporary women's fiction) appealed to me, and I discovered that she was looking for someone through a list she had made of thing she wanted to achieve this year. In my limited experience, I see the Crit partner as someone who give for more in-depth, structural critique... and is involved a lot sooner in the process. Beta readers read it when it's nearer completion and look for smaller errors, typos, plot holes, inconsistencies etc... but I recon that the roles blur and everyone is different. Nice to find you!
Laura x

Sarah Tokeley said...

I haven't explored the critiquing side yet, I just read the blog posts, but http://www.ladieswhocritique. com seem to be trying to offer such a service.

Luna said...

Good luck with your search! I'm going to be in the same boat very soon. If I find any answers I'll let you know.

I was a beta reader for a blog friend. We met through an author's blog that we both like. So, it helped that she was writing in a genre that I enjoy reading. We had built an online friendship which helped her to trust me with her work.

I write YA so a lot of what I've heard falls under that category. But if I stumble across anything that will help you, I'll get back to you.

Take care...:)

DEZMOND said...

The important thing is to find someone who likes the genre you write and above all, someone who is a reasonable person. As someone who works in the publishing industry I have a lot of writers among my friends and readers so over at their sites and blogs I've noticed a lot of people leaving comments and giving advice with no logic nor deeper understanding of writing or the publishing industry. So be careful whom you trust when you take advice from BETA READEARS. They can give valuable insights and info, but sometimes they can ruin an insecure writers with their bad suggestions.

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

I found my critique partners through blogging and building relationships online. I'm not a fan of handing my work over to complete strangers. There has to be an element of trust there for me.

Best of luck finding a good match.

Trisha said...

From what I've seen with finding beta readers, a lot of the time you will meet people on your blog, get to know them, and find you have similar interests. A connection is made and the beta relationship is born!

I recently found my first beta reader, or rather she volunteered and I was like YEAH!! So we'll see how that goes. I haven't sent her anything yet, but will do soon and will see what she has to say!

For critique partners, I've got a nice core group of those, but a beta reader is what I've been lacking!

Melissa Sugar said...

Murees, Thank you for the mention. I didn't know if I was the 100th or not, but thought I might be. It is very exciting.

Thanks for the beta reader crit partner advice. You are very brave to have your sibs doing this for you. Mine would be overly critical-although that is probably the best way to go.

Melissa Sugar said...

@Marsha Sigman, Thank you for stopping by via Alex's IWSG, I have met many interesting bloggers through his blogfest & am grateful to him. I have been following your advice on searching post & comments and it has been most helpful. Very pleased to meet you.

@ Laura, thank you for visiting and explaining difference between beta reader and crit partner. It is nice to meet you as well.

@sarah pearson. Thank you for the link I will check it out this week

@Jamie Burch Thank you for visiting. Becoming a beta reader for a blog friend who writes the genre you like sounds like the perfect way to get started. I don't know that anyone would be interested in having me (or an unpublished author) as a beta reader, but I am an avid reader who reads many genres. I read several books per week so I suppose it couldn't hurt to have an unpublished writer as a beta reader. The majority of our target readers that we hope to sell to fall in this category.

I appreciate the advice and offers for help from all who have visited. I look forward to getting to know you all better through our blogs.

Melissa Sugar said...

Thank you Dezmond, you have pointed out some important factors that we should all consider before taking advice from just anyone who offers to read and critique.

Melissa Sugar said...

@Lynda R. Young, "There has to be an element of trust there for me." Great advice. This helps explain the certain amount of apprehension I felt while searching for advice on finding a beta reader or crit partner. I am also reluctant to hand over my writing to a complete stranger

@Trisha,Good advice as well. I will continue to build relationships through my blog & hopefully I will connect with someone who shares my interest and we can help each other.

A very big thank you to everyone who has offered advice on this subject. I appreciate all of you have shared the way you discovered your beta readers & crit partners.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Melissa. You found me through Twitter, and I'm here because of that. I think I could be a good reader for the end product--I'm a professional proofreader and did some editing in college. I don't think I'd have the time to be the CP. Actually, I'm already one and have one, and I'm finding at my age that I don't have as much energy as I used to! It's that first phase that's so difficult for a writer. I was lucky to get a good editor/s at the small press who published my memoir. With that experience behind me, I feel that now I can handle much of the next memoir on my own. But I'll still need a few objective pairs of eyes! We all do!!
Ann Best, Author of In the Mirror, A Memoir of Shattered Secrets

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