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My Beta Readers Experience

Posted by CreateSpaceBlogger on Nov 5, 2014 5:50:39 AM

For an upcoming release, I used a fairly large group of beta readers before my final round of rewrites. Now, the dangerous thing about using beta readers is that you're selecting readers who are fans of your previous books. In the wrong environment, these readers may be reluctant to give you their honest opinions in an effort to stay in your good graces. So, I decided to give this group of beta readers the ability to provide feedback anonymously. I set up a survey with 13 elements of the book that they could rate on a scale of 1 to 5. I also gave them the option to leave a comment on each element they were asked to rate. In addition, they could leave a comment at the end of the survey to give their overall impression of the book.


This system worked beautifully. I got a lot of constructive feedback that helped tremendously during the final round of rewrites. The key for me was to know what needed to be addressed. Of the 13 areas, eight would only apply to my story, but five could be used for almost any book. I'll share them here, and I invite you to use them should you decide to use this method with beta readers.


  1. Character: Please rate main and secondary characters as a whole. (I went on to describe my style of revealing character)

  2. Plot: Besides being the catalyst for action and dialog, the plot has to be worth investing time in and has to be delivered in a compelling manner. Given all that, how would you rate the execution of the plot?

  3. Setting: The setting is a small fictional Southern town at the base of an unknown mountain range in Tennessee. Various other communities featured in the book are located on the slopes of those mountains. The author attempted to establish a ruggedness and sense of isolation both in the terrain and through the secondary characters of these small communities. Based on these criteria, how would you rate the setting of this book?

  4. The Final Conflict: The final conflict takes place in?(a location specific to my story). At the conclusion of this scene, readers should not have any remaining questions about the main plot: who was involved, the extent of the crime committed, and the plan to address it moving forward, etc. Based on these criteria, how would you rank the final conflict?

  5. The Ending: How would you rank the ending?


Together with the other eight questions in the survey, I was able to address problem areas. Having so much input before the release of a book has really set me at ease. I'm usually a bundle of nerves just before a book goes live, but now I'm more confident than I've ever been about a new book. And, I wouldn't feel this way without my beta readers.



-Richard Contributors/RidleyHeadshot_blog.jpg

Richard Ridley is an award-winning author and paid CreateSpace contributor.




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Nov 8, 2014 5:56 AM Adan    says:

One of the better posts re how to get beta reader feedback. Probably could be used almost as well for reviews.


Regarding, "I decided to give this group of beta readers the ability to provide feedback anonymously" - which I thought was a great idea - how does one go about doing that?


Thanks, really useful clear post!

Jan 18, 2015 10:01 PM okmike    says in response to Adan:

I agree, just what websites are the best to use for making that kind of poll, survey?