You have slaved over your cherished novel for days, weeks, months or even years. As you have worked to hone your story to the best of your ability, seeking out test readers is your next step. If you are new to writing, the labels assigned to those helpful test readers may be a bit confusing. So let us start with the basics.
What is an Alpha Reader?
There are differences between alpha and beta readers. Beta readers provide an in-depth evaluation of your almost completed novel. They are one of the last hoops you jump through prior to publication. Beta readers show you how your potential audience will perceive your work. Some authors use beta readers as a final review before publication. Alpha readers, however, come long before that. Alpha readers typically read the first draft of your book in stages. They may read the entire first draft at once, read a few chapters as you write them, and/or read the next few phases of your draft book. Alpha readers provide more of a critique than an audience perception. They are looking for plot holes, character flaws, and underdeveloped delivery. Punctuation and grammar may come in later drafts, but at first, your alpha reader should read for content. Alpha readers should be someone you trust. They should provide feedback without being overly critical or trying to pressure you into taking your story in a different direction. They understand that your book is not fully polished and refined. Alpha readers should be capable of providing the type of feedback you ask for. They should ask questions and give in-depth explanations to your own questions instead of just "yes" or "no" answers.
Am I Ready for an Alpha?
Alpha readers help you flush out the plot, characters, and believability of your book. If you are still working out conceptual details, your novel is likely not quite ready for an alpha reader. However, if you have a few chapters completed to the best of your ability, asking your alpha reader to take a look may help you catch early issues before they become giant, gaping problems. If you are going to provide your alpha reader with pieces of your masterpiece as you write it, try to stay two or three chapters ahead.
However, you are going to want to consider asking a reader who is not your target audience to review your masterpiece as well. This does not mean they have zero interest in your genre; but it should not be their first choice. There are two main reasons for this. The first: if they tell you they could not put it down, you know you have something great. Second, they are more likely to note the strengths and weaknesses in your novel. Readers who are not necessarily interested in your topic tend to focus on other things like grammar, plot, and character development. This does not mean that you should choose someone that hates romance to read your paranormal romance. But… asking thirteen-year-old Stacy to read your complete history of Charles Lindberg is unlikely to result in a constructive review.
What Alpha's Focus On
Before you send your beloved novel to your alpha reader, really think about what type of feedback you want. You may just want general feedback. That is perfectly fine, but being able to ask specific questions is important such as, "Did you think the dialogue in the kitchen scene was realistic? Is my tone right? Do the reactions to the revelation in chapter 2 seem on point?" In fact, if you cannot come up with a single specific thing you want feedback on, you may want to reconsider if you are ready for an alpha reader at all.
Typically, questions you may want to ask should revolve around plot holes, believability, fact-checking, underdeveloped characters, originality, dialogue, pace and overall structure. Here are a few examples of questions you can provide to alpha readers.
Using an alpha readers may not always be realistic. That’s okay! However, by asking an alpha reader to evaluate your work as you go, you may find yourself catching small issues that could have developed into much larger ones. It can also help you rethink how you portray scenes, characters and the narrative before finding out your 500-page masterpiece may not be as clearly written as you first thought.
And once you feel that your book is getting more polished, start looking into beta readers. Experienced beta readers know how to be very specific in their feedback to help move the plot along. Many will help point out grammar as well as spelling issues.
It can seem like a long road to get your book into the hands of the masses, but the more fine tuning you do now, the better your readers will love it!
Ready for a beta reader?
Only you will know when you are ready to go! And when you are, we'll be here to help you find the perfect readers for your genre. Did you know that we can customize your readers to match your anticipated demographics? Male, female, country of birth, country of residence, genres, you name it and we can provide it.
Did you also know that many authors do multiple rounds of beta reading? That helps ensure that the changes made based on the betas feedback the first time was complete.
Our beta reader pricing is as follows:
One beta reader is $85.
We also offer beta reading in a group of three for $150.
This allows you to compare and contrast different view points, discover items from one reader that another may have overlooked and give you a better idea of how your work is received.
All beta readings will be completed within three weeks of receiving your manuscript.
Our goal is to provide our authors the highest quality help and value for the money spent.
Contact us at any time with questions or for help.
Hear what other authors have said about their beta reading experience!
Thanks for your help with my special circumstances and the timely response from the beta reader. - Karen
Thank you so much! Please extend my thanks to your beta reader. Her insights were excellent, and will help me improve my story. - Z. B.
The feedback is instructive. I am glad we went back to repeat readers as they are confirming there were improvements in the areas I and my editor targeted. - M. T.
Wow! That was fast! ;) Loved the feedback and critiques… I was just picturing some comments in a Word file, so you guys went above and beyond with in-depth reporting! I’ve sung your praises over at Goodreads, so hopefully someone will get the hind and some business will come your way soon. :) Thanks again so much! These stories will be better because of you, and I’ll be sure to contact you again next October when I publish them so you can all get your complimentary eBooks. (The perks of being self-published…) - Jack
I will use all these comments to improve my story. I will definitely use your services again. - Georges E.
What a wonderful and necessary service you provide - this is exactly the kind of feedback I was hoping for. If it is possible, could you please thank the beta readers for me, and especially pass along my thanks to the second reader (EML36) for the thorough comments and insights? Combining the viewpoints and thoughts of the three, I now have some indication of what worked and what will need revision. I hope to make use of your company again sometime soon. All the best. - David A.
Thank you very much for these reports. I like how they're crafted, and they're of big help for me. - Cristelle C.
Thank you so much for this beta reading. It is so helpful and will help me revise the book appropriately to be even stronger. I will recommend your services to anyone who asks. Thank you, thank you, thank you! - Rachel L.
I want to thank you for your great service, they were truly awesome betas! - Tanor C.