Beta Reading ~ Lynley Wayne: Outside the Margins

Join us as Lynley Wayne goes Outside the Margins.

OTM-PhotoBeta Reading

If you are a serious reader, then odds are you’ve heard the term beta reader at least once. You may even know that a beta reader is often the first person to read a new book, even before it goes off to the agent or editor.

But do you know what a beta reader does?

It’s both hard and easy to describe the duties of a beta reader. Easy because I can tell you exactly what I look for in a beta. What I need from them. However, it varies from author to the author.


If you are thinking about becoming a beta reader, the best thing to do is ask questions. Find out what it is exactly that the author is looking for. If you have opposing end goals then all you are doing is wasting one another’s time.

What I’m looking for in a beta reader is someone who can read through the story and then point out areas that may not have worked for them.

If you find yourself skipping over a certain part, can you tell me why? What was it that caused you to lose interest? Did I go too far with explaining something? Not enough explanation?

Do you like the characters? If not, what is it you don’t like?

Are there continuity issues? Does Joe sit down on page 12 and then one page 13 he sits down again without having ever stood up? Did Joe enter a room and then in the next scene he’s outside with no explanation of how he got there?

Those are just a few examples of what I’m looking for in a beta reader. Some authors may need help on a specific part of the book, like medical knowledge or military tactics. While others say they need a beta reader but what they are really looking for is a proofreader—someone to help them fix all the spelling errors, grammar errors, and misused words. While others might have certain parts of the book they are unsure about and are just looking for an outside opinion.

The job of a beta reader is an important one. It’s the first chance for the author to get a feel for how readers will respond. And, it’s one of the last chances the author has to fix any big issues before submission.

Just keep in mind; the author is trusting you with his or her work. That’s not an easy thing to do for some, so be mindful. Don’t make comments on social media about mistakes you find, no matter how vague they may be. While the rest of the world may not know who you are referring to, odds are, the author does. Don’t share the author’s work with anyone else. Don’t post snippets online without the permission of the author.

Treat beta reading as you would if you were being hired to do a job. Only instead of getting paid in cash, you get paid in free books and eternal gratitude. Not to mention the perk of being able to read a story months before the rest of the world.

~ Lynley Wayne

About Lynley Wayne

Lynley was a 2014 Lambda Literary Awards Finalist. She published her first book in September of 2012 and hasn’t looked back. When not writing she can found reading or coming up with creative ways to avoid housework. While Lynley Wayne may be a pen name, the woman behind it is very real and believes everyone is entitled to their own version of happiness. She looks forward to the day when who or how we love is no longer an issue.


Twitter: or @LynleyWayne


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Farewell Giveaway
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.

Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,

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9 thoughts on “Beta Reading ~ Lynley Wayne: Outside the Margins

  1. If I were a beta reader, the authors would love to kill me. I ask tons of questions to even published books and I think that a couple of authors didn’t like them…
    P.S.: I adore your book Facing Demons!! Even its cover is PERFECT to me!!

    • I can’t speak for other authors, but personally I appreciate it when my beta readers ask questions. If the beta reader questions something, then odds are others will as well. I spend so much time working on a book—taking things out, adding things in, changing things around, rewriting—that I can’t always keep track of what information actually ends up in the book. Pointing those things out as a beta reader is what helps us ensure the book we ultimately publish is the best it can be.

      And I’m glad you liked Facing Demons. I admit to having a soft spot for Cam. And I’ll let Hubby know that you liked his cover.

  2. Your thoughts on beta readers are very similar to mine. It’s difficult to find the right person who understands what you’re looking for and dares to speak their mind. I’ve always asked my small group not to be cheerleaders. I want them to be tough and point out anything that makes them pause. Once they see that you’re receptive to constructive criticism they’re more comfortable and not afraid to speak the truth. Trust is a huge issue, as you’ve pointed out. A good beta reader is a national treasure as far as I’m concerned and one I cherish quite closely.

    • I couldn’t agree more. A good beta reader is worth their weight in gold. And what you said about CONSTRUCTIVE criticism is also true. The key word being constructive. Telling me you hate my book does me no good if you can’t tell me why you hate. Although, if I’m being honest, I would hope that you maybe disliked parts of the book and not the entire thing. 🙂

  3. The author I Beta for has been great. If I have a question, she’ll send me an answer. If I think something doesn’t work, she’ll let me know if she agrees and if not why. I give my opinion of the book always remembering to be respectful. She does the same with my opinions and questions. I think trust and respect ,for both parties, need to be part of the Beta/author relationship for it to work.

    • Exactly. Honestly and respect are, in my opinion, two of the most important aspect of the author/beta relationship. Or really any relationship. I’m always open to questions from beta readers, or regular readers. 🙂 If a beta asks for clarification on something, then that usually means I haven’t done my job as a writer. It lets me know that I need to make sure that question has been answered in a way that the next person reading it wouldn’t be left with the same question at the end.

  4. Thanks to Brandilyn and Prism Book Alliance for once again allowing me to take up space on the blog. I’ll do my best to drop in and answer any questions throughout the day. If I don’t get to your questions, feel free to email me and I promise to respond.

    Have a great day!

    • I can’t speak for other authors. If there’s an issue like pages missing or chapters out of order, something like that, then yes I want to know. Otherwise, I don’t. The reason being; after it’s published there isn’t anything I can do to fix it. Knowing there are things wrong but being unable to fix them is tantamount to having an itch that you can’t reach and can’t ignore. At least for me.

      So personally, I prefer the ignorance is bliss way of thinking.

      With that being said; I’m always looking for beta readers. People to help me find and correct those problems beforehand.

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