Beta readers and early reviewers

“If there is an amateur reader still left in the world—or anybody who just reads and runs—I ask him or her, with untellable affection and gratitude, to split the dedication of this book four ways with my wife and children.”

– J.D. Salinger, from Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters & Seymour, An Introduction

What is a beta reader?

Beta readers and early reviewers are authors’ darlings. They’re regular people who offer to read an unpublished manuscript and give honest feedback to the author. Ideally, they like to read books in that genre and are organically drawn to your book — by its title, maybe, or its description or jacket copy. They don’t have to be pros, writers, teachers, students, or, God forbid, grammarians. They just have to want to read that particular book for fun.

Beta readers’ responses can be invaluable to authors (especially indie authors) because they give a glimpse of what the reviews might look like if the book went live as is. Because, after all, Amazon is forever.

Our beta reader program

For a flat fee, we’ll send your book out to our betas and bring their responses back to you a month later. We have 286+ wild and 10 domesticated betas and we’ll help you determine which would be best for your book right now. A month later, we’ll send you honest feedback from qualified strangers you won’t have to sit down with at Thanksgiving.

Check out the data from six recent campaigns in our post Wild Beta Readers by the Numbers.

Wild betas

Our wild betas (also lovingly referred to as feral) are unpaid, untrained, and come with no guarantees. They may or may not finish your book. They may or may not meet their deadline. They may or may not fill out our questionnaire, or fill it out completely.

Sounds like a great investment, doesn’t it?

It is. Because knowing whether someone DOESN’T finish the book is just as valuable as knowing what they thought of it after they finished it. These are readers who were drawn to your book by all the available information: Your title, your tagline, your book description, your bio. They’re the ones who might pick it up off the shelf or buy it online or borrow it from the library. Don’t you want to get their reviews before the book is published?

Our wild beta service will send a call out to our list of (as of April 27, 2019) 286 volunteers and send your book to all takers. We’ll stay in touch with your readers from start to finish and find out how their reading experience goes. If they get stuck or don’t finish the book, we’ll find out why. We’ll compile their anonymous answers and send them to you with our interpretation of your possible next steps.

Become a beta reader

Civilized betas

Our civilized betas are professional, paid readers we know personally. They are carefully matched to each manuscript and are well versed in your genre. They are sworn to finish the book, meet your deadline, and fill out our customized beta reader questionnaire completely and thoughtfully.

As with our wild beta service, our domesticated betas’ anonymous responses will be compiled and sent to you along with our thoughts on the best next steps for your manuscript.

Bring Your Own Betas

If you’ve gathered your own beta readers and want to get the most out of them (read: want them to tell you the truth, even though they live with you/work with you/grew up with you/raised you), we can manage them for you. Send us your manuscript and their email addresses and we’ll handle them like wild betas.

Here’s a link to a recent campaign that brought in 41 volunteer readers. (Requests are closed.)

Rates start at $250; turnaround time is around six weeks.

Further Reading

On this site:

Wild Beta Readers by the Numbers

From other pros:

Author Magazine: To Beta or Not to Beta?

Carolyn Haley, American Editor: The Value (or Not) of Beta Readers

Paula Munier, Career Authors: The Pros and Cons of Beta Readers

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