Here’s a clue: They play a major role in determining whether your book hits the mark or misses it altogether.
Feedback and critique are crucial for every writer’s story. Whether they hurt your feelings or disappoint you, receiving feedback and critique needs to be a part of your writing process. But I’m not talking about the feedback and critique an editor gives you, where they edit it for grammar, style, etc. I’m referring to the type of feedback and critique that’s raw, honest, and straight to the point — coming from someone reading it for the very first time.
Beta readers are your everyday readers — not professional writers and editors — who provide essential feedback on an unpublished manuscript. They offer critiques that address any issues from a reader’s perspective, such as holes in the plot, inconsistencies, word choice, tone, as well as the overall impact the story can have on its readers. Overall, beta readers can help determine whether readers will enjoy or reject the story, which is super important to the life of your story.
Are They Necessary? Absolutely! When they get a hold of your manuscript for the first time, they represent the audience who will read your picture book and provide real-time feedback as if they just bought it off the shelf. Hiring at least three beta readers should provide you with enough feedback to determine if your manuscript is ready to move forward.
Where Can I Find Them? First off, don’t reach out to people you know. They probably won’t give you the most honest, objective feedback you need. (Read more about this here.) Instead, peruse the following online marketplaces to find experienced freelance beta readers: