Guidelines For Beta Readers

Recently I sent out my third Manuscript to my beta readers. I wanted to them to have some idea of what kind of feedback I would be looking for so I drafted some guidelines for them and sent them along with the manuscript. I never thought that this might be useful to more than my chosen victims. In the interest of thoroughness I also sent a copy to my editor, Wendy Reis. That lovely lady made some minor alterations and suggested others might benefit from my list. So, here they are. Thank you Wendy for nudging me on this. I hope my writer friends find it useful.


If you find yourself unable to complete this in the time I need you can let me know. I will understand, so don’t be concerned if you have to turn me down. I am sending this ahead of time so that if you cannot do this I will know and can approach other readers instead. In the meantime, thank you so much for offering to do this. You will never know how valuable this is to me.

When you come across something in the manuscript that needs to be looked at please take down the page number, and paragraph so I can find the spot.

Please keep track of everything in a word doc (preferred) or email format so you can send it to me via email as an attachment. (Or in the body if no Word doc.)


1:  Awkward sentences – anything you feel the need to read twice, or just doesn’t read smoothly.

2:  Places where the pace is off or bogging down – where it gets slow and boring.

3:  Grammar, spelling and punctuation errors.

4:  Where would you like to see more description.

5:  Where would you like to see more dialogue or tension.

6:  Anything that just doesn’t work for you.

Please be as specific as you can, especially as to location of the problem. I want honest feedback. I promise I will not be offended. If something bothers you it is likely to bother other readers as well. I will not promise to use all your suggestions but I will take them seriously. This part of the process is very important. Your honest input will make this a better book.

Thank you all again.

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13 Responses to Guidelines For Beta Readers

  1. acflory says:

    I particularly like that bit about anything you need to ‘read twice’. Thanks for sharing this. 🙂

  2. Pingback: Author Yvonne Hertzberger’s “Guidelines for Beta Readers” | Wendy Reis Editing (Blog)

  3. Excellent points; I tell my beta-readers to tag anything that pops them out of the story, much like your ‘read twice’ point. If something keeps them from being totally immersed, I need to change that!

  4. That’s what it’s there for – as long as you don’t claim you wrote it. 🙂 Glad you like it.

  5. tdmckinnon says:

    I like it, Yvonne, nice and simple.

  6. Thanks, Yvonne. I think one hurdle is finding people who aren’t afraid to hurt your feelings. My husband is actually a great beta reader for me–and I pay attention to his advice.

    I’m here via the Indies Unlimited Blog Fest.

    Informative blog!

  7. Stopping by from Indies Unlimited. Thanks for sharing your beta-reading guidelines.

  8. Lita Burke says:

    Stopping by from IU to say hi. I like your guidelines list–those are things I want to know about my new stories.

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