Where Do We Find Beta Readers?

We wrap up this series of posts about beta readers by answering the essential question of where to find a beta reader.

  • Relatives: Our family is often a great place to start. While not every family member would make a great beta reader, there are likely some relatives who would enjoy it and provide helpful feedback. Family members, however, may not be as critical as needed, since they want to encourage us and don’t want to hurt our feelings. Even so, relatives are a great source to give our work its first read.
  • Friends: Next in line are friends. Just as with family, friends may also not be as critical as needed, but they can provide an array of feedback from different perspectives.
  • Writers: Other writers and authors may be open to be a beta reader, especially if they are closely connected with us or if they want to swap beta reading work.
  • Readers: Some of our most engaged followers, such as blog readers or mail list subscribers, may jump at the chance to be a beta reader for us.
  • Online: A Google search for “finding beta readers” gives five million results. The first match is a beta reader group on Goodreads, which has 3,600 members and will surely provide some good beta readers if we’re willing to invest the time to find them.

I’ve used the first three items and am open to the fourth, while finding a beta reader on Goodreads is a most intriguing idea.

What other ideas do you have? Who have you used as a beta reader?

Be Alert to What Others Say About Us Online

One day on my writing blog, Byline, I wrote about a book I really enjoyed. To my complete shock, the author commented on my post. She thanked me profusely for my kind words, added to the discussion, and then mentioned her upcoming book. I was smitten.

More recently, on my main blog, Spiritually Speaking, I posted a review of a book that highly influenced me. This time the author emailed me to thank me for my kind words. I was shocked he took the time to do so. Then he asked if I’d post a review on Amazon. Even though there were already hundreds, I was happy to do so. As a bonus, I reviewed the book on Goodreads, too!

Neither author knew I existed before I posted about their book. So how did they find my comments? Though I don’t know for sure, I suspect they used Google Alerts.

Google Alerts is a free service that emails users whenever a particular phrase appears online. I recommend all authors setup a Google Alert for their name and book titles. Google will then send an email alert whenever someone uses one of those phrases online.

Then, when it’s appropriate, we can respond to comments about us or our books. The important thing is to be respectful. Thank them; be kind. The goal is to form a positive impression with them and others reading our response.

Of course not everything written about us or our books is positive. Resist the urge to respond to negativity; it will never go well. We must not attempt to defend ourselves. (Let others do that.) Although hurtful, we need to develop a thick skin and learn to ignore the barbs of others. To help deal with online criticism, remember the adage, “The only thing worse than bad publicity is no publicity.”

But don’t focus on the negative. The goal is to add to the online discussion about us and our books, garnering followers and fans.

It only takes a couple minutes to setup a Google Alert. Do it today.

Is Amazon’s Purchase of Goodreads a Good Thing?

As March wound down, news surfaced of Amazon buying Goodreads. The announcement shocked me. Fearing the unknown, I mourned for what assuredly would be lost. Not so fast. Is Amazon’s acquisition of Goodreads really a bad development? Here are four points of view:

Amazon’s Perspective: From a business standpoint, this is a great move by Amazon. The world’s largest online retailer started with and built its reputation on books. Goodreads focuses on books, celebrating them and serving as a haven for those who love to read. This is a wise move and smart investment for Amazon.

Booklovers’ Perspective: Amazon is a business with a profit motive; books are secondary. Goodreads puts books first, aiding in their discovery and offering a place for booklovers to connect. Proponents who embrace Goodreads as an egalitarian community of knowledge and sharing, fear its corruption by a profit-motivated owner. They cite accounts of Amazon summarily removing reader reviews from their website without warning and with no justification.

Publisher’s Perspective: People who produce and sell books need to promote them, with both Amazon and Goodreads being two places to do so. Few publishers can survive without Amazon but many worry about the juggernaut’s commanding power and ability to unilaterally dictate terms. It’s a love-hate relationship. Publishers worry Goodreads will be sucked into this, no longer providing an autonomous promotion platform.

My Perspective: Amazon also owns the popular movie resource IMDB, which continues to operate without interference from its parent. Amazon didn’t corrupt IMDB and I expect the same outcome for Goodreads.

Long live Goodreads!