How Many Beta Readers?

30 Aug

As I mentioned in my post about fantasy, I’m writing a short piece now for a contest. I’ve edited it based on feedback I got on that post (thank you to everyone who helped out!) and when I was happy with it, my husband read it. He had some good feedback about consistency and a change or two to make and I’ve edited again to a point where we’re both happy with it. My question is, where does this process end?

With such a short piece (500 words) I don’t want to edit the piece to death. With a longer work, I’ll ask multiple people to read it and let me know what they think. Different points will strike home with different people so having multiple beta readers is helpful. But with such a short piece, it’s hard to miss any plot element. I’m thinking of asking one more friend to read it before I submit the piece.

Are two beta readers enough for a 500-word story? What about 5,000 words? Or 50,000? Is there a point where you reach critical mass and more eyes don’t help anymore? Please tell me what you think, reader. I’m trying to find my perfect balance.

Until next time, write on.

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3 Responses to “How Many Beta Readers?”

  1. Christy Luis August 30, 2016 at 9:44 PM #

    I think the number of beta readers matters much less than the quality. I have a two wonderful beta readers and I just send them everything I write, be it a chapter or a short story! They have all read some my (terrible) older work and I trust their judgement.

    And then I send it to my mom, haha.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sam August 30, 2016 at 9:45 PM #

      My husband is always my first reader, haha. I agree quality matters. There are some dear friends whose opinions I trust more than others. I think at least two is probably best but some longer works could deal with a few more. Do you agree?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Christy Luis August 30, 2016 at 10:06 PM #

        That’s awesome that your spouse reads your work! 🙂 Mine reads for typos, after I finish. He’s a huge help.

        I don’t think the length of the work necessarily affects the number of beta readers you should send it to. If you have multiple beta readers who read in the genres of your various works (fantasy short stories; historical novels; whatever), I say send it to all of them. You’ll be able to tell whose advice fits your story. I never act on big revision suggestions right away–I just consider their feedback and use whatever works. I don’t think you can have too much advice, as long as you know how to sort through and process it.

        For your fantasy short story, I would say just send it to however many beta readers you know read fantasy short stories.

        For longer works, my experience has been that it kind of depends on who sticks with it. I started with three, but one of mine was so busy, she had to drop out. If you HAVE three or more trusted beta readers, that’s awesome and I say send it to all of them!

        Liked by 2 people

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