Questions To Ask Your Beta Reader

One milestone to hit in the book writing process is sending your WIP off to beta readers.

Your betas can be family, friends, fellow writers, or even paid for services.

I’ve used all types, including this week when I finally sent my latest work in progress to four fellow writers!

These talented author friends and I have been swapping manuscripts for a few years, giving each other feedback when we all need a set of fresh eyes on our words.

When looking for feedback, I usually just ask them to read the book like a reader and let me know their thoughts. However, earlier this year when being a beta myself, one writer (the awesome Lorraine Ambers) provided questions, and it really helped me to give her the feedback she was looking for.

If you’d like to do the same for any of your betas, here are some ideas.

Questions To Ask Your Beta Reader

General Questions

If you don’t know what to ask your beta and/or you don’t want to overwhelm them, providing some general questions is a good place to start.

These q’s can be applied once they have read the whole MS, but I suggest asking them to look at these questions before reading so they know what to keep an eye out for and so they can highlight any typos as they go through your pages.

What did you think of the overall:

  • Story
  • Characters
  • Twists
  • Start
  • Middle
  • End
  • Pacing

Where did the story get:

  • Boring
  • Confusing

Did you spot any:

  • Typos
  • Missing words
  • Sentences that didn’t make sense
  • Other issues you think I should know about

These questions are a great starting point if you need general feedback or are working with a beta for the first time. They also allow the beta to give helpful feedback without the process being too scary or a mountain of work for them.

Targeted Questions

Along with those general questions, you can also ask your beta some targeted ones.

These can apply chapter-by-chapter and should be tailored to your specific book. To make it easy, provide the questions as your beta reads each chapter.

You can do this by listing the questions at the end of each chapter in the MS so they can be answered straight away, or in a separate document to be looked at only when the beta has read certain sections, i.e. when you want to know if the murderer reveal in chapter ten paid off.

Discuss the option with your beta reader and work out the best system for you both.

Examples of targeted questions:

  • Does (insert character name) come off as a jerk?
  • Did you agree with how (insert character name) acted during (insert book event)?
  • Did you understand the (insert book event) and why it had to happen?
  • Was (insert book event) a surprise?
  • Were you shocked when (insert character name) did (insert book event) to (insert character name)?

Having questions that relate directly to what happens in your book can be very helpful for your feedback, and can give a beta who wants guidance specific things to comment about, so it’s a win-win.

Deeper Questions

If you’d like something deeper than the general or targeted questions, or you have an awesome beta who loves answering feedback questions, you can send them those questions plus these…

  • How quickly did you get into the story?
  • Were you hooked from page one or did it take a certain amount of chapters?
  • Was there anything specific about what hooked you—was it a character? an event? an unanswered question?
  • Where did you lose interest?
  • Did you want to read until the end?
  • Was the ending satisfactory?
  • Was the story missing something you expected? (this is a good one to ask if you’re writing a series and your beta has read all the books).
  • Is the story believable in the context of the story-set world?
  • Are the character behaviors believable in the context of the story-set world?

Use these questions as a guide and add your own which relate to your book. The deeper you go, the better the feedback.

If you have a beta who’s willing to answer any of these questions when providing feedback, thank them a million times over, and if they’re a fellow writer, offer to do the same for their WIP.

With good questions and the wisdom of helpful beta readers, you should be well on your way to making your book the best it can be.

— K.M. Allan

Find me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

23 thoughts on “Questions To Ask Your Beta Reader

  1. Great information and suggestions, Kate! I’m waiting for one more beta reader to finish my current MS, so this info will come in handy the next time. I like the idea of inserting questions at the end of the chapters. I can’t imagine publishing a book without a good beta read first. Unfortunately, some authors seem to do just that, and it shows.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Alexander! I’m Team Beta Reader too. The ones who have read my MS are always great at helping me make it better. I don’t know why any writer wouldn’t want that in place before publishing.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I think in some cases it’s a reluctance to receive criticism or perhaps a bit more hubris than is justified. I’m sure there are some authors who have no idea how to find beta readers or know why they should use them. The thing is, there’s tons of free information out there, leaving few excuses. I don’t want to sound like a snob, but I was guilty of all of the above early on and learning I was wrong was humbling to say the least!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. petespringerauthor

    Developing trust and understanding that beta writers are simply trying to help one make his/her piece stronger is the type of collegial relationship we should be striving for. A couple of other questions that I like to ask my beta readers: 1. Was the plot ever too predictable? 2. Did anything happen that seemed implausible? 3. Were there any words or phrases that seemed to be used too often?

    Beta readers are an important part of the process, and we need to be open-minded to change while also realizing these recommendations are just opinions.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Great tips and questions, Pete! I definitely tend to overuse words and phrases, and now I’m annoyed I forgot to add that to this post 🤣. Thanks for the reminder, and for your advice about beta feedback being optional opinions. That’s so true.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ll have to try that. I had a good critique group until a few years ago we all finished our works in progress and stopped meeting. Then Covid came along and pretty much stopped any attempts to get back together.

        Liked by 1 person

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