Beta Readers

Today I am writing about Beta Readers.
You’ve put forth your best efforts. You’ve completed your book. Now you’re ready to publish!
Not so fast.
Have you gone over your book looking for the smallest of errors? Have you followed up by editing the book? If yes, then good, but you’re still not ready.
Let me pause here for a word of transparency. While I have used readers to check my work they don’t necessarily fit within the “Beta Reader” definition. Also, I am not necessarily recommending that you use Beta Readers. It’s a choice. Whether you use Beta Readers or not, it is your choice.
With that out of the way let’s review the following which is based on an article written by editors.
What is a Beta Reader?
A Beta Reader is essentially a person who provides feedback that potentially helps your book to be better than it was. Not everyone can provide that service. A Beta Reader should be:

  • the kind of person likely to buy your book
  • be more knowledgeable than you are on the craft of writing
  • be a reader of books in your genre

It is unlikely that you will find such people in your circle of friends.
Where do you find Beta Readers?
Listed below are some ideas. You are free to add additional ones.

  • Social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.) by asking for help
  • Scribofile where you offer feedback on other works and receive reviews of yours
  • Join Wattpad where you upload your book with a compelling blurb enticing people
  • Visit local writing or critique groups for face-to-face feedback

Working with Beta Readers
Just locating Beta Readers is not enough. You must have rules. The editors of the article point out authors don’t usually pay Beta Readers, so your interaction with them needs to be positive and affirming.
Don’t forget this little rule: How you treat your Beta Readers will determine whether they ever help you again. So it is to your advantage to treat them well. Use the Golden Rule: treat Beta Readers as you would want to be treated.
Having established that all important rule, let’s look at some others:

  • Give them your completed manuscript, not a draft
  • Send the manuscript in their desired format and method
  • Keep them informed on what kind of information you’re looking for
  • Provide a list they can follow
  • Never display disappointment or offense at negative feedback
  • Reward them by mentioning them in your acknowledgement page (people like compliments)

What’s the alternative to Beta Readers?
Your circle of friends can provide the alternative. Not all friends will be willing to help, but some may be willing. The thing to remember is to provide the same rules as for Beta Readers. And remember that these people are not necessarily trained to do such work.
But I have found that a friend who is willing to read my book and critique it can be very helpful. As I write this I have in mind a woman who took the time to read one of my manuscripts and critiqued it. Her comments and suggestions played an important role in the writing. Unfortunately she’s not really available anymore because of time constraints but readers like that are like platinum!
What should I do?
My suggestion would be to first look among your circle of friends for one or more people who’d be willing to critique your work. Note: the fact that a person may be an educator doesn’t necessarily mean that he/she should be used. Writing is fluid and sometimes crosses the border of so-called rules of writing as taught in the schools. That doesn’t rule them out, but just be careful.
Once you’ve done that you can try the Beta Reader routine.
ARE YOU A BOOK REVIEWER? I am always looking for book reviews. Whether it is Perished The World That Was (Book One), World of Noah and the Ark (Book Two), World of Shem (Book Three), World of Abraham (Book Four) or Death Ship to the Stars I value your reviews.
If you would like to review any of these books contact me at with the subject line indicating that desire. An example of an appropriate subject line would be: ‘Seek to review [book Title].’ In the email make sure to indicate your email address, your name, and the choice of copy (PDF or ePub).

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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books and is best known for Christian Historical Fiction. For more information on him or his books visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to You may also be interested in his Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.

What To Do About Bad Reviews?

I have been very blessed that so far I have had only one bad review. Some authors have had more than that, but no matter how many you get it hurts.

So what do you do about bad reviews?

A few years back I received such a review about the novel Perished. Sandwiched between 4 star and 5 star reviews it still offended me. Did I write a nasty letter to the reviewer? Did I erase the review from Amazon?

No, and no. The worst mistake you can make is to remove a negative review. Actually a negative review highlights the positive reviews. Readers will see that lonely negative review and also the positive reviews. And most will rightly decide something was wrong with the reviewer.

The young man reviewing my book actually pointed out the problem in his review. He admitted that he didn’t finish the book. Then he proceeded to tell his reasons for not finishing the book.

And this is where anyone who read the book would immediately know the problem. He not only didn’t read the book to the finish, he jumped around. His main complaint was that some of the characters did not remain true to their characterization at the beginning. I spotted this immediately.

One of the problems with writing historical fiction is that some of the characters in the book are drawn from actual historical accounts. In the case of Perished I was writing about actual Biblical events and people which required the use of real names.

Sometimes these names were identical to others. So it was possible to have two or more characters with the same name. Now if the reader is following the story as it was written, it is easy to determine which character is front and center. But if you jump around, never a good idea, then you could easily get confused as to which character you are reading about.

So the review was not only a bad rating (2 stars), but it was a poor review in approach and content. One side of me wanted to write him and point out his failings, but I didn’t do that. Why?

Because doing so is not good form. Most writers and teachers of writing will warn you not to criticize the reviewer. It simply offends others.

So I bit my tongue, metaphorically speaking, and left the review there. As I stated earlier it highlights the 4 and 5 star reviews. It becomes a plus and eventually helps the marketing.

Another response though is to take that negative review and ask yourself questions. In this case I asked myself if I could have done a better job of identifying which character was present? Most of the time the answer to that question is yes.

It’s possible that I could have eliminated certain characters and used alternate or even fictional characters instead. Sometimes when complaints come you can rewrite the book or at least certain scenes. The principle here is to treat negative reviews as a learning experience.

You can also treat good reviews the same way. Sometimes a reviewer may point out an error or a problematic tendency in the book even though they gave the book 5 stars. Once again you can take that and turn it into a learning experience.

Which brings me to another point or principle: leaving the negative review in place can serve as a reminder to you (or me) that you can’t please all the people. So don’t take it personally. Instead try to turn it into a positive learning experience both in marketing and in writing. Such an attitude will improve you as a writer.

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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books and is best known for Christian Historical Fiction. For more information on him or his books visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured. To reply to any blog you have the option of commenting on a blog and/or sending an email to You may also be interested in his Facebook page at RFrederickRiddlesWorld.



Book Reviewers Wanted!

This is an alert to all of those who follow my blog.
My latest novel Perished: The World That Was is now available. If you participate in Kindle Unlimited you can read it for free. Why am I telling you this? Because I am looking for book possible reviewers.
If you like to review historical fiction then I encourage you to do the following:

  1. Contact me at and tell me.
  2. Get your Free copy at Kindle Unlimited or for $3.99 at Kindle.
  3. Once you have read the book post it on Amazon.
  4. And let me know about your review.

Thank you in advance.

R. Frederick Riddle