156- How to Use Beta and ARC Readers for Your Book

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I'm continuing on a fluid series on book launching and publishing with this post on how to find bet and ARC readers for your book. To read more of the series, click HERE.

One of the important parts of a book launch is sending out your book to beta and ARC readers. Not sure what those terms mean? You aren't alone! Let's break that down.

Note: Different people may use these terms interchangeably and in different ways. The definitions I'm sharing are the ones that I use and what I think are most commonly used by authors.

To see the post on my main blog, click HERE.

To join my free Facebook community, click HERE.

WHAT ARE BETA READERS?

Who are they?

My beta readers are superfans who love the genre I write in and get a chance to look at my manuscript before it's even been to the proofreader. I send it to them as soon as I'm done editing.

How many do you have?

I have less than ten beta readers.

What you send them?

I send them a Word doc or, by request, another type of file. They will either email a list of corrections or notes (if they aren't using Word) or will use the feature to make comments and track changes in Word.

What they do for you?

My beta readers look for things like plot holes, typos and other errors, or anything in the story that might trip them up, not make sense, or that slows down the overarching story. They help me get secure in the story and often they pick up things the paid proofreader misses.

When do I send them a book?

I send the book as soon as it's done with my final edits. I am on a super-tight schedule. I send them the book usually less than two weeks before publication. This is VERY SHORT and most people recommend longer. But for me and the readers I have, it works.

WHAT ARE ARC READERS?

Who are they?

My beta readers get my books in the final form--after the betas and after the proofreaders and after I've made my corrections. The book is fully formatted and should be as close to perfect as possible.

What you send them?

I send a .mobi or .epub file through Bookfunnel.

What they do for you?

They read in advance and write the first set of reviews. If they happen to find any typos or have suggestions, I always welcome them, but I do let them know these are my final edits and I'm not looking for story suggestions.

When do I send them a book?

I send them the book after I've made the final corrections after the betas and proofreaders have looked at it. Because I'm publishing on a super tight schedule, they usually get the book a week or a few days in advance of publication.

HOW TO FIND BETAS & ARC READERS Friends and family

This can be good or bad and you may not know until you try it. Friends and family might not be great readers because they want to encourage you. OR they might feel so close to you that they will say whatever they think.

I've had bad experiences with friends and family reading books and telling me how much they hated things. It's really hard to come back from that. You may not want to.

Friends and family may not be the ideal readers for your genre. If you find someone who is a good reader, reads your genre, and you think would give you an honest (but kind) response, go for it!

Paid Services

I have not personally used paid services to find beta and ARC readers. I'm a little hesitant to recommend this, though I'd love for someone to weigh in who has had a good experience.

First of all, I think that an organic approach may yield better results. I've heard some horror stories about the paid services, but again-- it's not firsthand. The more I wrote and grew my audience, the more I had people requesting to be a part of my ARC teams. Paying for betas and ARCs might be your only option in the beginning, but I would work to organically build readers as early as you can.

Asking Other Authors' Readers

I've seen authors teaming up to grow their ARC and beta reader. This would look like one author offering to give their own readers the signup form for another author. I think this can be great and I've personally done this for authors, but you don't want to do this too frequently, unless you want your readers stretched really thin.

I write a book a month, so I want readers who can keep up. If you're publishing less often, you might be more able to do this often. This is a great way to get in front of the right readers and another reason you want to be building relationships with other authors.

Asking Other Authors

I haven't had great luck with this, mostly because I think all the other authors are busy being authors. But I know many authors do use other authors in their genre as beta readers or as ARC readers for their books. If you are just starting out and have no direction, but do have author friends, this is another thing you could do--read for them and they read for you.

TIPS FOR BETA AND ARC READERS

Be clear in your expectations. I've had people do way more than I wanted or asked.

Don't let everyone on your beta team. You don't want a lot of beta readers. I have almost ten and they are epic. But some people only have a few other people look.

Find a timeline that works. My publication schedule is very fast. I have found people to work fast with me. That may not work for your genre or readers. You'll need to plan out the time you NEED for this to work for you.

BE THANKFUL. I've been a beta reader for some authors before, given great feedback, and gotten nothing in return. Not even a thanks. I will never beta for someone again who does that. If you find someone willing to read your book or write a review or share with friends, you better show them how much you appreciate them.

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