Writer and Beta Reader Etiquette

Guidelines for The Writer
  • Objectively discuss critique points.
  • Wait a couple of days between reading the critique and doing anything besides thinking about it. Give it time to soak in first. If you have any ideas of how to fix some of the points addressed, jot them down so you don't forget, but do not start.
  • Ask politely for clarification on a point
  • Thank them for their time, even if you don't like some of the points they make
  • Ask for a certain kind of critique if that's what you want. If you want someone to be gentle, ask them. If you want a through line-by-line critique, ask for it. Unless what you're looking for is just straight praise.
  • Consider all advice and disregard what you don't agree with
Do not...
  • Get defensive after reading a critique
  • Insult your beta reader's writing ability
  • Ask a beta reader to read something of yours and then not listen to any of their points
  • Email your beta and tell them exactly why they're wrong
  • Use published books as an excuse for a criticism.
Guidelines for The Reader
  • Provide the type of critique that the writer asks for to the best of your ability and decline projects if you can't provide that. If a writer asks you for a detailed line-by-line critique and you're best at doing big picture critiques, say so.
  • Be as tactful as possible
  • Let the writer know if a critique is taking longer than expected
  • Offer to critique a couple of chapters before agreeing to take on the entire thing (unless you know for sure that your critiquing style matches the writer's wants)
Get into an argument with the writer. Even if they start it. It's just not worth it.
  • Accept a beta read you can't handle. If you are so busy that you barely have time for your own writing, say so.
  • Promise to have a beta read back by a certain date and not carry through within a reasonable amount of time
  • In short: Writers take your critique in good grace, take what you can use, leave what you can't, and move on. Readers, be tactful but thorough.


    Sarah said…
    Lovely summary. There's a lot of trust involved in the writer-beta-reader relationship, and these are great tips to build and maintain it!

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