A beta reader is someone willing to read a story before it is published and offer critical feedback so that the writer can make it a better story before it goes to print. The feedback covers things like story line, pacing, setting, characters, and voice. In exchange for their time and wisdom, beta readers get to read my cozy mysteries before they are available to the general public. They also get to have an impact on the story, as I often make changes based on beta reader feedback. If you would like to serve as a beta reader for my books, use the contact me form at the bottom of this page and let me know.
Here are the questions that I ask my beta readers to consider. Many thanks to Joe Moore at Kill Zone from whom I borrowed the majority of these questions.
- Did the story hold your interest from the very beginning? If not, why not?
- Did you get oriented fairly quickly at the beginning as to whose story it is, and where and when it’s taking place? If not, why not?
- Could you relate to the main character? Did you feel her/his pain or excitement?
- Did the setting interest you, and did the descriptions seem vivid and real to you?
- Was there a point at which you felt the story started to lag or you became less than excited about finding out what was going to happen next? Are there parts where you wanted to skip ahead or put the book down? Where, exactly?
- Are there any confusing parts? What confused you?
- Did you notice any discrepancies or inconsistencies in time sequences, places, character details, or other details?
- Were the characters believable? Are there any characters you think could be made more interesting or more likeable?
- Did you get confused about who’s who in the characters? Were there too many characters to keep track of? Too few? Are any of the names or characters too similar?
- Did the dialogue keep your interest and sound natural to you? If not, whose dialogue did you think sounded artificial or not like that person would speak?
- Did you feel there was too much description or exposition? Not enough? Maybe too much dialogue in parts?
- Was there enough conflict, tension, and intrigue to keep your interest?
- Was the ending satisfying? Believable?
- Did you notice any obvious, repeating grammatical, spelling, punctuation or capitalization errors? Examples?
- Do you think the writing style suits the genre? If not, why not?
- Did the actual murder mystery keep your attention? Were details and clues released too soon/soon enough/too late? Did you have a hypothesis (or multiple hypotheses) about who the killer was as you read? Did you guess correctly? Why or why not?