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I'm always hearing "send it to my beta readers" etc. etc.  Where do these said beta readers come from?  Is it just friends and family or some devoted group of loyal fans?  Or any combination of both?  I have about all of one person I can depend on to read books prior to publication, but getting a brutal honest critique is always out of arms reach.  Although it could simply be that I'm just such an awesome writer that one could never find anything wrong with any of my books.  Yeah, I like that better, actually forget this entire post I'm obviously too awesome to find a negative beta reader.
 

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When in doubt, just ask. I typically use Twitter and put out a few notices listing the book and the genre.
 

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Friends, writing forums, critique groups,  etc. People who don't care about offending you are probably the best, since you don't want everyone to tell you it's wonderful when it's not :).
 

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I got my beta readers by begging on my personal Facebook account, which I have set so that all my posts are public. My friends and family chimed in first, and then a few of their friends.

My writing is rated G, so my mom is actually my target reader. I don't trust her to tell me what is not working, but she is excellent at telling me what to flesh out. Heh, she gets really impatient when she wants to know something, and she'll email me and ask questions like "How does Raffle find Oreo?" Bingo! Now I know where to load up on more suspense. :)
 

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I have a bunch of different ways to find beta readers:

1. Facebook - I have both a professional and a personal account. I use both and have found excellent beta readers that way.
2. My email newsletter list - most of the people there I haven't met, so they're not afraid to tell me what's what.
3. My mom's friends - she'll post on Facebook or email her friends for me, and this has been a HUGE help.
4. Friends and family - even though they don't catch everything and think my writing is amazing, they'll still find stuff that no one else does.

I've never used Twitter before... I really like that idea.
 

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I have three author friends and we all beta for each other. We've been doing it for years, and I trust their opinions. They're all multi-published and they write in different genres, so it really helps to hear the varying thoughts.
 
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You can ask other writers to beta read one of yours in exchange for you beta-ing one of theirs. It's a lot of work but it helps if you them know the how in-depth the level of critique you want is and what level you're offering in return, so you don't get 5 people wanting a line edit of their 400 page novels.
 

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I've never had to ask. I blog about writing, and post advanced drafts of work-in-progress. All I've had to do is mention that I could use some extra eyes. My readers know I'm not interested in anything but honest, educated critiques.
 

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Online critique group, such as Critters or Critique Circle. You do have to pay it back, however, so it's not just out of the kindness of people's hearts.

But that's no biggie; helping others helps you get better too.
 

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William Stacey said:
Online critique group, such as Critters or Critique Circle. You do have to pay it back, however, so it's not just out of the kindness of people's hearts.

But that's no biggie; helping others helps you get better too.
I agree with you, but the only issue I took with Critters is that so many of my crits received were...somewhat low quality. I'll just leave it at that. The great thing about Critters is anyone can join. The not-so-great thing about Critters is anyone can join.
 

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LilianaHart said:
I have three author friends and we all beta for each other. We've been doing it for years, and I trust their opinions. They're all multi-published and they write in different genres, so it really helps to hear the varying thoughts.
This. Trust is so important. I'm the only one in my small circle not traditionally published yet which has been interesting. Getting to hear the feedback they get from their editors has been even more interesting. I used to do content editting way back in the day, so it's nice to know that my skills are still there ;)
 

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I gave up working with beta readers and now just exchange manuscripts with a few author friends. Critiques from other authors are much more valuable and they understand the urgency involved in actually following through with a promised beta read and helpful notes. 

Most importantly, if you say you want to start a critique group and you work to get it together you must carve time out of your own chaotic schedule to also critique their work. It's not a one-way relationship, treat it that way and it will fail immediately. My circle also meets via email weekly to set goals for that week including projects and wordcounts, then hold each other accountable. Putting it in writing and knowing you have to comment whether you've met your goals the next week seems to light a fire under my butt.

So find an author whose work you respect. Approach them privately to see if they are interested in being crit partners. If they say no thanks, find another and repeat. It has taken me years but I finally have a few *priceless* crit partners. Good luck.

 

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KayBratt said:
I gave up working with beta readers and now just exchange manuscripts with a few author friends. Critiques from other authors are much more valuable and they understand the urgency involved in actually following through with a promised beta read and helpful notes.
This raises a good point about the difference. That said, I think it's possible to give a beta while giving a crit. I find my notes (and the notes I get from my ladies) riddled with "As a reader" "Or, if I was just reading this" beta notes squished in between all their awesome critiques.

But, I know I'm really lucky. Sounds like we've got lots of lucky people here tho!
 

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Caitie Quinn said:
This raises a good point about the difference. That said, I think it's possible to give a beta while giving a crit. I find my notes (and the notes I get from my ladies) riddled with "As a reader" "Or, if I was just reading this" beta notes squished in between all their awesome critiques.

But, I know I'm really lucky. Sounds like we've got lots of lucky people here tho!
I totally agree, Caitie. We do the same with slipping those 'as a reader' comments in when needed. So helpful.
 

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Jonathan C. Gillespie said:
I agree with you, but the only issue I took with Critters is that so many of my crits received were...somewhat low quality. I'll just leave it at that. The great thing about Critters is anyone can join. The not-so-great thing about Critters is anyone can join.
You might have better luck at the Online Writer's Workshop (OWW). It costs $49 for the year, and you have to pay it back, but the feedback is really good, and there are actually professional editors there who each choose one piece in their genre each month and do an in-depth crit on it for everyone to see. When I was there I had a horror short chosen as the Editor's Pick of the Month, and the feedback I got was extremely useful to me. That one piece of feedback alone was worth the cost to join for the year.
 
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