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  Introduction

Read or listen to this lesson.

Beta publishing is a fantastic way to cultivate fans and market your book and you can start - you should start - as soon as you start writing.

Beta publishing is pre-publishing or publishing “small,” before you distribute “big.” (That is, distributing your final book to online retailers, bookstores, and libraries.)

This module of the The Self-Publishing Freedom Course helps you figure out where your audience is and how to reach them.

You'll learn how and why you should consider beta publishing and how to find and interact with your early readers.

You'll learn exactly how to interact with beta readers (courtesy Mark Coker of Smashwords and author consultant Stuart Horwitz), and how to be a good beta reader yourself.

Finally, you'll learn how to cultivate your beta readers into long-term fans who will become a powerful marketing street team to provide first-day book launch Amazon reviews and spread the word about your book on social media.

Beta readers are a foundation of your marketing strategy. Don't be shy! Put your work out into the world and start gathering the writing and reading community around you long before you publish.


Here's how Wikipedia defines a beta reader:

An alpha reader or beta reader (also spelled alphareader / betareader, or shortened to alpha / beta), also pre-reader or critiquer, is a non-professional reader who reads a written work, generally fiction, with the intent of looking over the material to find and improve elements such as grammar and spelling, as well as suggestions to improve the story, its characters, or its setting. Beta reading is typically done before the story is released for public consumption. Beta readers are not explicitly proofreaders or editors, but can serve in that context.

Elements highlighted by beta readers encompass things such as plot holes, problems with continuity, characteriaation or believability; the beta reader might also assist the author with fact-checking.

Sharing your early writing can help you avoid embarrassing mistakes that cause readers to leave bad reviews on public sites. So encourage honest feedback from your early readers.

Let's get started. First, please download the Beta Reader Guide and Worksheet.

It can take a few weeks to figure out which online communities are right for you and your book but right now you can send out an email to all of your friends and family, your email list, and social media connections to see who might be interested in being a beta reader.

For me, beta readers have been the most rewarding part of preparing my manuscript. They keep me motivated and accountable and give me honest feedback about my stories.

Let's do it!


Downloads

Beta Reader Guide.pdf
Beta Reader Worksheet.pdf

Work

Download the Beta Reader Worksheet from the Resources lesson and start scribbling. The worksheet is designed to walk you through the process of finding, communicating with, and cultivating beta readers. For example:

  1. I’d like to suggest that you find three places to start sharing your writing. Find one community that suits you and fully immerse yourself in it. See the lesson on Where to beta publish.
  2. Sign up for betabooks.co in preparation for bringing your own readers into the platform. It’s free for one book and up to 3 readers, then $14.99 per mo for up to 20 readers and unlimited books. It’s always free for the readers.
  3. Ask friends, family, peers, current readers, Facebook friends, and your mailing list subscribers to be beta readers. See the lesson on How to find beta readers.
  4. When they accept, send them an email with instructions on what your goals are. See the lessons How to interact with beta readers and Stuart Horowitz on beta publishing.

This is fun and scary and you won’t believe how rewarding it is. Let’s start!

Head on over to the Facebook group for questions, support, and community.


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