Personal editing. Professional results.

15 Questions for Your Beta Readers

February 5, 2021
Posted by:
Ron Seybold

Beta readers can help your book develop. They'll need specific guidance, though, or you'll get a lot of "I thought it was great." You want to hear that, but the book needs more specifics. It's good to use beta reading as a backup to a complete development cycle. Craft the book first, then check your choices. A coach or a development editor can get you ready for the beta moment.

  1. Does the manuscript have a strong hook? Does the story start in the right place?
  2. What are the manuscript’s strengths and weaknesses? Examine these elements
  • Point of view
  • Scene setting
  • Language and especially tone
  • Showing vs. telling balance
  • Clarity
  • Use of metaphors and similes
  • Length
  1. How is the characterization? Was there any place where you felt you couldn’t follow the motivations of a character, or didn’t buy them?
  2. How is the pacing? Were there any places where it slowed down or felt hurried?
  3. When did you feel the most and least engaged with the text? At what point did you start getting bored or distracted?
  4. Were there any scenes you didn’t get the point of, or felt that they didn’t serve the story as a whole?
  5. Which was your favorite character, and why?
  6. How was the imagery/description? Did the manuscript need more, less—and where?
  7. What were the overall themes of the book? How would you strengthen them?
  8. Did anything in the book seem fake or unrealistic to you?
  9. What concerns do you see readers having with the book?
  10. Was there enough conflict? Did it feel natural to you? Were there any points where it felt contrived or forced?
  11. What was your favorite part, thing, or scene of the book?
  12. What was your least favorite part, thing, or scene of the book?
  13. What is the one problem with the book that you are hesitant to bring up, possibly because you’re not sure how to fix it?
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