What’s The Role of a BETA READER?

img_2351-19If I do my job properly as a writer, I have put together what in my head is a relatively cohesive, interesting story.*

That’s it. In a nutshell, that’s my job.

The role of a BETA READER is to:

read the finished manuscript (book, story, whatever) before it is released to the general public and give the author feedback.

That’s it.

The Beta can do as much or as little as they want, or as much or as little as the author asks.

Pretty blurry job description, isn’t it?


Let’s go back to me and my job as a writer for a sec. Occasionally, I am wrong about the whole “cohesive story” thing. Sometimes we writers just write stuff that makes great sense to us – and no sense to anyone else.

Ooh, he’s so metaphysical.

Or, maybe he’s freaking obtuse.

It’s hard to tell sometimes. The old barn was a metaphor for the MC’s marriage, but the wrecked car wasn’t. Unless you want it to be, dear reader; then it absolutely was.

Assuming that we didn’t go completely bananas and write some fog of a diatribe, my critique partners will point out glaring errors in passive voice or grammar or missing words or missing quotes. That’s their job.

So when I’m done listening to what my Critique Partners have to say, I fold in their suggestions (or ignore them at my peril) and then I give the book one more look and decide it’s ready for the general public.


That’s where the beta reader comes in.

There’s nothing like sending your manuscript out to thousands of people and having them write back and say you had a typographical error in the first friggin’ page, or ask how the butler could do it when he wasn’t even present when the murder happened!


The point is, your critique partners are really looking at your story a little differently from a regular reader. CPs will probably enjoy your story, but they are not reading it only to enjoy it. They are reading it to make sure it makes sense, to make sure that flows, to make sure that there’s a good pace, to make sure there’s no grammatical errors, to make sure your quotes and commas and words are all properly in place and spelled right. What they’re not doing is saying, “Let me just pick this story up and read it cover to cover like a regular would. Not their job.

That’s the role of the beta reader.

To simply read the story and give you whatever feedback they happen to assess from it.

For some, it’s going to be, “Hey there were no typos, there were no grammatical errors, it’s good to go.” For others it’s going to be, “You didn’t develop these characters enough in the beginning, so I don’t care about them enough halfway through when you start killing them off.”

In my head, my story flows pretty smoothly – I knew what I meant to say with just about every chapter, every paragraph, every sentence…

Maybe not every word, but, you know; I do my best.

So when I have all my chapters together, I will release it to a second set of critique partners – who get to read it more like a book and less like a critique.

They are pretty happy with that, those CPs who got to do it that way. They’re almost beta readers

The job of the beta reader for me is just to read it make sure that what I intended to be there is there. If they see errors, point them out; otherwise, “Good story, it worked/did not work for me” – and not every story is gonna work for every reader. We know that.

So for me the job of the beta reader is basically… whatever the beta reader thinks it is.

Some look for grammar, some look for content, some look for jokes.

I’m happy with all that.

If they all write back and say, “This is the best thing that ever read!” I’m good with that, too.

* My real definition is: a well told story with interesting characters told in a compelling manner, but who’s counting.

WANNA BE A BETA for my latest project? Click CONTACT ME and say so!


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Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers, including the fast-paced murder mystery Double Blind.

Check out his other works HERE and check back often for interesting stuff.

Published by Dan Alatorre AUTHOR

International bestselling author Dan Alatorre has 17 titles published in over a dozen languages. From Romance in Poggibonsi to action and adventure in the sci-fi thriller The Navigators, to comedies like Night Of The Colonoscopy: A Horror Story (Sort Of) and the heartwarming and humorous anecdotes about parenting in the popular Savvy Stories series, his knack for surprising audiences and making you laugh or cry - or hang onto the edge of your seat - has been enjoyed by audiences around the world. And you are guaranteed to get a page turner every time. “That’s my style,” Dan says. “Grab you on page one and then send you on a roller coaster ride, regardless of the story or genre.” Readers agree, making his string of #1 bestsellers popular across the globe. He will make you chuckle or shed tears, sometimes on the same page. His novels always contain twists and turns, and his nonfiction will stay in your heart forever. Dan resides in the Tampa area with his wife and daughter. You can find him blogging away almost every day on www.DanAlatorre or watch his hilarious YouTube show every week Writers Off Task With Friends. Dan’s marketing book 25 eBook Marketing Tips You Wish You Knew has been a valuable tool for new authors (it’s free if you subscribe to his newsletter) and his dedication to helping other authors is evident in his helpful blog.

16 thoughts on “What’s The Role of a BETA READER?

    1. Truth.

      That sounds simplistic, but it’s accurate. I want my beta reader to read the story like a regular person off the street, and then give me feedback.

      For some that’s going to be very simple. They’re just going to say they liked it or didn’t like it. Some will not reply at all. Others will give you lots and lots of information.

      How do you make that happen? You tell them to write as much feedback as they feel is necessary.

      When they reply, look at whatever they said and then if you have any questions, ask them then. Asking your questions in advance tends to poison the well. They will mention things you mentioned because you mentioned them, not because it was a big deal to them.

      If several people point out the same thing, you probably need to address it.

      With practice you will get a feel for it.

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