Beta Reading Guidelines

Below are links to the 4-part series I wrote about beta reading. As time permits, I’ll also add links to helpful resources and further reading.

I encourage you to read the comments from the original posts. Some very good additional information and personal experiences were shared by readers.

Remember, be sure you are ready for such a serious critique before you undertake it.

Beta Reading — Part 1

This post provides an introduction to the topic. You’ll find a definition of the concept and questions to ask to determine if you need a beta reader, whether you’re ready for a beta reader, and if you’re ready to be a beta reader.

Beta Reading — Part 2

This post covers what to consider when asking for a beta read or agreeing to do a beta read. The writer needs to know what s/he wants from the critique, and the beta reader must understand what’s being requested.

Beta Reading — Part 3

This post covers the specifics of beta reading — how a reader should critique the manuscript and present his comments and how the writer should react to them.

Beta Reading — Part 4

This post summarizes the earlier posts and discusses the “what next” aspect of the relationship between writer and beta reader. It also provides a handy “dos and don’ts” checklist for both the writer and beta reader.

Additional Resources

From Writer Unboxed, see this post with suggestions for tackling critique comments.

Still under construction!

10 thoughts on “Beta Reading Guidelines

  1. Hiya JM! This is excellent information! Would you be willing to do a guest post series on my Kat Collins blog ( to present the Beta Reader information? I would love to share this with my readers. Email me and we can work out the details. katcollinswriter [at] gmail [dot] com

    Hope all is well with you!


  2. Pingback: » Guest Post: What is Beta Reading? by JM McDowell Writes & Bites

  3. Great post, JM. Beta Readers are such an integral part of a writer’s journey in completing a manuscript, but we’ve always felt as though there should be some kind of manual that came with it, a dummies guide that lists all of the p’s and q’s of the process. So glad to have found this. We haven’t had the easiest time with Beta Readers and wondered if it was our doing, theirs, or both. Seems like it’s a common problem in the literary field though.


    • I know a lot of writers who have had brutal experiences with beta readers. And the difficulties can arise from both sides—new writers who don’t understand how thorough a beta read should be, betas who don’t understand the need for tactful and respectful comments…. There are so many ways the process can go wrong. But when both sides are on the same page, it can make all the difference in the final manuscript. Even when it goes exactly as it should, the writer usually needs a recuperation period! I really wanted to help both sides understand how to approach this process, and I hope I’ve been able to help smooth the process for some writers and betas.


  4. Pingback: Beta Readers, The Best Ones Will Tell You The Truth. Let Them. | The Write Transition

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