Beta Readers with Author Mollie Blake

We have author Mollie Blake talking to us about Beta Readers. She has a new book out, Keeping You ~A Cheshire Love Story.



Mollie Blake is a published author of contemporary romance. A lover of reading sexy stories, Mollie decided to go one step further and write her own. Her romances are filled with danger and peppered with hot sexy scenes. She is a member of International Thriller Writers and UK Romantic Novelists Association.

Connect with her on the web:


Website     Facebook      Twitter       Author Page

Beta Readers

Don’t you just love that wonderful feeling of finishing your manuscript? The characters have been living with you for months. You thought you’d never get that scene right. You changed the build up to the ending, yet again. Then suddenly it all falls into place and your journey is ended.

Well, actually, it’s just starting. You love your story. But will anyone else? Is it really as good as you hoped, as you aimed for? Perhaps no one will love the hero. What if readers feel antagonistic toward the heroine? Did you overlook any loose ends?

Whilst your own final read through can allay some of your concerns, there is nothing like having a fresh pair of eyes to reassure, or help, you. And that’s where a beta reader can be invaluable.

Beta readers are generally non-professional readers who will read a manuscript following initial completion and prior to publication. They may comment on grammatical errors, anomalies in the plot, a way to improve the story, or any combination of some or all of these issues. They are that fresh pair of eyes.

I think a lot of authors use betas, and I find them invaluable. But they’re not for everyone. When I approached an author friend to see if she used them, she said, “Definitely not.” She didn’t want different opinions on her work and was happy to work only with her editor. So it’s personal preference. That said, whether you chose to use betas or not, I strongly advocate any writer to have their work independently edited, even if you intend to self-publish. It will add polish to your manuscript, and it’s amazing what a good editor will find, no matter how well you think you have written your story.

But back to betas. There are pros and cons to using them and there needs to be the inevitable caveats. So here are my thoughts and recommendations.

1. Ask a friend or family member.
We all know the disadvantage of asking someone you know to provide feedback on your book. The chances are they will not tell you that they hate it, or that they think it’s badly written. But they will no doubt give encouragement and if you are at the early stages of your writing adventure, that is no bad thing. It’s great. Plus they are easier to find, in general.

2. Ask someone from a reading group.
They will have a love of books, and  an experience of an array of writing styles, plots and characterisations. They will also be accustomed to hearing differing views. This could be your own opinion if you don’t agree with everything they say. Remember this is your story—you own it. But also remember the beta reader is being kind enough to read your manuscript. It takes time and time is precious.

3. Make sure it’s someone who likes the genre you write under.
I see little point in asking someone who is an avid crime reader to read a medieval romance. It may not be a pleasant experience for anyone.

4. Ask someone from a writing group.
This is particularly useful if you feel you need help with grammar or flow of the story. These people should be able to spot errors and suggest ways to improve a certain narrative if necessary. But a note of caution. These people can also be too critical. Many may never have finished their own manuscript for that reason. You are writing a story, not an essay.

5.  Create a private group on your Facebook page.
As you create an identity for yourself as an author, it is always good to have a Facebook “business” page, in addition to your personal page. Readers will “like” you page and hopefully join in any discussions generated. This will have its own challenges but that discussion is for another day… Back to beta readers. Try inviting people to join a private group to beta read your drafts. This is something I am considering, the aim being to reach a mix of people including some you don’t know, but knowing that they enjoy your genre. If you take this option up, let me know how you get on and we can exchange notes J

6. Consider members of other Facebook groups who do reviews.
I have included this category as it is a possibility that some readers, who normally read published books and submit reviews, may like to be a beta reader. I personally only put up my published book for review in these groups, but I guess it’s an option.

7. Ask a book blogger
I believe many would be happy to act as beta readers. These guys read books like we breathe air and you should get some great feedback. It may not always be what you want to hear, but if you choose to take their advice it could improve your writing.

8. Followers of a fanzine
These are publications produced by enthusiasts. So for example, if your story has some bearing to Star Trek, join their fanzine and connect with members who could become your beta reader. Fifty Shades started in a Twilight fanzine.

9. Consider any schemes run in organisations where you are a member.
I am a member of the Romantic Novelists Association in the UK and they run a New Writers Scheme (NWS). There is a fee for this and it goes much further than beta reading, with events and critique of your manuscript by an assigned reader. However it is only for first time writers. Once you’ve published a book it’s time to move on.

And now I guess it’s time for me to move on and wrap up. Remember, a beta reader is more than a reviewer. They should want to help you make your book even better. Of course, at the end of the day it is your book. You should be keen to accept any recommendations, or not be afraid to stick your own convictions if you choose to. In any event always remember to thank the readers, maybe gift them a copy of the final version of your book. After all, they have gifted you their time to read, make notes, and feedback to you.

Good luck with your writing and your route to final publication.


Keeping You: A Cheshire Love Story (Cheshire Love Stories Book 3)



His past haunts him. Revenge drives him. Can her love save him?

After a chance meeting in a bookshop, young Suzy Harper is engaged by multi-multimillionaire, Lawrence Bane, to work on translating a French document. They embark on an intense relationship, but he is surrounded by mystery and shame as demons from his past threaten to destroy everything he has worked for, including her love for him.

This exciting erotic romantic thriller traces the increasingly intense and tender relationship between the inexperienced Suzy and her wealthy, troubled lover, Lawrence. There are two obsessions in Lawrence’s life—his passion for Suzy and his drive for revenge against the gangland boss who murdered his best friend.

Will Suzy be strong enough to accept Lawrence for the man he is? Will Lawrence trust the woman he loves enough to reveal his darkest secrets to her? Will their love survive the challenges that lie ahead?

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23 comments:

  1. I appreciate this advice. And the story sounds very good. Happy Writing!

    Also, thanks for the kind word on my blog. My mother felt guilty following me around with antiseptic spray when I suffered mononucleosis as a child. Heh... I told her I was not only understanding, but proud. And that beat my boyfriend's reaction, who thought me 'cute' and took photographs of my pale face. He was a doll overall, though, I must stay. ~grin~ Stay healthy, and thank you for the kind word.

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  2. I have a great writing group. A couple of our members have told horror stories of other writing groups, so it may take time and effort to find a good bunch to help. As for book bloggers, those who have successful blogs may not have time to read as a beta. They're declining ARCs sometimes because they don't have time to finish the ones they have.

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    1. I know what you mean Liz. You can't paint everyone with the same brush. A blogger friend of mine likes to do beta readings for a change and challenge, but she too is turning published works away as she's too busy. I think it's important to find someone whose opinion you respect and with whom you can connect. And show appreciation, of course. Your writing group sounds lovely x

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  3. I have a long time tight-knit group of CPs (I'm unbelievably lucky that 2 are professional editors!), but I find general beta readers invaluable as well.

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    1. Thanks for comment Tara, and glad you've find something that works for you. I have a professional editor who likes my work and helps me, too. Good luck with your writing x

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  4. Great list! I love my beta's and don't know what I'd do without them :) Though my latest novel was picked up without any beta reads--something I'm a little wary of still!

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    1. Ha, don't knock it Meradeth. Good luck, and thanks for comment xx

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  5. Blogging has allowed my path to cross with many terrific writers and avid readers. Some writers asked me to beta read their books, which I was happy to do, and some writers/readers have volunteered to beta read for me. It's a win-win situation all the way around, and our writing benefits tremendously.

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    1. Yes, Susan, glad it's working for you. Good luck with your writing, and happy reading, beta or not xx

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  6. Great list of advice.

    I've yet to reach the beta reader stage but it's coming soon. The idea makes me nervous. Would anyone like it? Would anyone fall in love or despise my characters? It's enough that I'm undecided about it. But I'll definitely use a professional editor.

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    1. Go for it Lidy. Just think - it can only make you a better writer. And editor definitely right thing to do. Good luck x

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  7. I'd be lost without beta readers. It's like having a friend to tell you if you have spinach in your teeth before you head out on a big date.

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    1. Ha - perish the thought. I have had a jumper on back to front though! Thanks for comment & good luck with your books x

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  8. Beta readers can be a huge help. I had one experience that was bad but pushed me to work harder. For Tsunami Crimes, I only had one beta reader. And for Flaming Crimes I decided not to use a single one. Oddly enough, the less I use now the better the outcome...because I’ve grown.

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    1. Sounds like that's a good place to be for you, Chris. it has to be a personal choice, and as you say, that can change too. Thanks for comment & good luck. x

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  9. I have a couple of CPs, but no beta readers yet. At some point I'd like to do this though. Thanks for the tips :)

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    1. Thanks Jemi. I assumed a CP was harder to find. Good luck with beta readers x

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  10. I used beta readers for my current manuscript and their feedback was so insightful. They helped me identify a number of areas which needed to be addressed. I'm amazed at how generous all of them were with their time. Cheers - Ellen

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    1. Sounds brilliant & good teamwork. Thanks, Ellen and good luck x

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  11. Beta readers have been so helpful to me. I think the advice about making sure the person or people who read your ms like the genre you wrote is SO important. Wishing Mollie all the best!
    ~Jess

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