Beta Reader Service

Beta Reader Service

AJC Australian Beta readers

Need some feedback on your manuscript, but not feeling ready to show people yet? Perhaps your friends or family have told you it’s great, but you know, deep inside, they don’t want to hurt your feelings. Or maybe you’re stuck halfway through and just want some support and encouragement. Sounds like you’re ready for some independent, honest, constructive feedback that doesn’t cost a fortune.

Why book a beta reader?

It doesn’t really matter what stage of life you are at as writer, everyone needs feedback to help give perspective.  Whether your manuscript is at second draft or tenth draft, having two or three beta readers review your work is a smart, inexpensive way to get feedback before you engage a professional editor.

Our beta readers are all avid book lovers, willing to give you a fresh perspective on your work, especially when you’re too close to clearly see your own story and characters. Coming from all walks of life, our readers have diverse backgrounds and reading habits. So whether you’re writing for a mature or younger audience, for Memoir, Romance, Children’s chapter books or Sci-Fi fans, you’ll receive genuine feedback from experienced readers in your genre.

If you’re worried about harsh feedback, you needn’t be. Our aim is to deliver honest feedback, but we’re also conscious of supporting you.

"We're growing fledgling writers here. Anyone can find things that are wrong – criticism is easy. Taking time to observe an author’s strengths requires more energy and talent, so we take that time to ensure our reports are balanced."

Report content

All beta reports take the form of a detailed standardised questionnaire and focus on big-picture issues. However, authors are welcome to pose specific questions themselves. Here is a sample of the questions readers are required to answer:

  • What is the core theme or message of this story?
  • Does the story hang together well?
  • Are the scenes set clearly?
  • Are the characters believable, likeable or engaging?
  • Does the story start in the right place?
  • Is the ending satisfying and does it come full circle?
  • Is there a sneaky plot hole?
  • Is the story itself believable?
  • Are there problems with continuity and structure?
  • Could the writing itself be improved?

Click here to see full list of questions

Does the story begin with an interesting hook, creating a desire to read more?

Does the manuscript begin in the right place?

Did the protagonist(s) have any characteristics that made them especially likable or unlikable?

Are the main characters compelling, sympathetic, and/or someone you can root for?

Do they seem real and three-dimensional, with distinct voices, flaws, and virtues?

Who are your favourite characters.

Who are your least favourite characters.

Were you able to picture the characters well?

Are the secondary characters well rounded? Do they enhance the story?

Are the relationships between the characters believable and not contrived?

Do the characters act or react to events in a believable way?

If there are romantic elements, did you want the appropriate characters to end up together?

If there are erotic elements, were they handled effectively?

Are the characters goals and motivations clear and proactive enough to influence the plot?

Are the internal and external conflicts well defined for each main character?

Are there enough stakes and/or tension throughout to make it a “page-turner”?

Does the premise avoid cliché and/or bring a fresh perspective to an old idea?

Are the plot twists believable yet unexpected?

Are there any confusing sections that should be made clearer?

Was the ending satisfying?

Does the story move along at a realistic, compelling manner, without rushing or dragging?

Do scenes progress and flow with effective transitions?

Is the story free from information dumps or backstory that slow the pace of the story?

Does every scene add to and seem important to the story?

Did you think any scenes could be cut?

Is there a hook at the end of each chapter or scene that makes you want to read more?

Do the descriptions allow you to immediately get a vivid and clear sense of time and place?

Is there too much or too little description?

Is the dialogue natural and appropriate for the story?

Does dialogue move the story forward and reveal who the characters are?

Is there an appropriate mix of dialogue and narrative?

Does the writing “show” the scene with the senses, using “telling” only when appropriate?

Are important details seamlessly woven into the story, or does the writing contain too much exposition?

Is the point of view (and any changes) handled appropriately and consistently?

Does the writing quality allow the story to shine through and draw the reader in.

Did anything take you out of the story?

Did you perceive any sensitivity issues in this manuscript?

Does the story deliver on the promise of its premise and opening scenes?

From a reader’s point of view, did you enjoy reading this story?

What age group and genre do you think this book would fall under?

Who do you see as the readership for this book?

What is the overall state of the work – in relation to readiness for submission or publication?

What next steps do you recommend?

What beta readers don't do

  • Beta readers do not communicate back and forth with authors. Think of a beta reader as an intelligent, avid reader in a bookshop, who picks up your book, reads it, then writes a review on the book’s strengths and weaknesses and what they felt worked or didn’t for them as a reader.
  • Beta readers do not provide editorial advice. Nor do they mark up your manuscript with spelling, grammar or punctuation issues  – that’s an editor’s job. Beta readers respond more to how your book made them feel.
  • Any questions your beta reader might raise in your report are the type of questions your general readership might raise. These questions are for you to use in developing your manuscript further. You don’t need to answer them for your reader.

Why book multiple readers?

Opinions are subjective. By booking multiple readers, you are more likely to get a wider feel for what’s working and what’s not. If two or more people are saying the same thing, it’s more likely this is how your readership will perceive your work. If one person disagrees, you can take or leave their thoughts as the odd one out. Think of it as having your personal workshop group.

Not convinced? Have a read of this personal account about having my own novel beta read.

Professional opinions

While the majority of my beta reading team are editors, as beta readers their aim is to provide that gut-feeling response you need from new readers – equal to someone picking up your book in a store and giving you a constructive review, without the risk of your work being torn apart by harsh criticism. And on that subject, 

Anyone can find things that are wrong – criticism is easy. Taking the time to observe an author’s strengths takes more energy and talent.

Naturally, if you’re after more detailed feedback accompanied by professional advice, an Assessment or Developmental Edit is what you need.

While beta reports are uniformly structured to cover standard issues, they are not intended to be extensive – that would be an assessment. Beta reports are designed to give a brief summary – though some readers may be more generous with their time.

2024 Rates (incl. GST)

AU$3.50 per 1,000 words, with a minimum of AU$135 per reader/per manuscript. Payable in advance. (See the rate calculator under the booking button

Author anonymity and privacy

Our beta reads are completed anonymously for both readers and authors, so there’s no judgement or preconceived ideas getting in the way of honest feedback.

All members of the beta reading team have signed a non-disclosure agreement confirming that any work submitted to them for beta reading purposes is copyright and the rightful intellectual property of the author, and it may not be shared or discussed with members of the public, unless a published copy has been freely given as a gift by the author, or the reader has legally purchased a copy from a retailer.

Australian vs International Marketplace

We are happy to read books from all over the world, as long as they are in English. After all, stories are stories, and their building blocks are not unique. Plenty of books from America and the U.K. make their way onto our shores.

However, if you specifically require an American reader, we recommend US-based Quiethouse Beta Reading Network.  Or you may wish to book a combination of both Australian and American readers.

Meet the Beta Readers

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