A beta reader is a test reader of an unreleased work of literature or other writing (similar to beta testing in software), giving feedback with the angle of an average reader to the author about remaining issues. A beta-reader is a non-professional reader, so that an uncolored opinion of an average reader can be obtained. Usually, a beta reader will be unpaid. The feedback is used by the writer to iron out remaining overall issues with plot, pacing and consistency. The beta read also serves as a target audience test to see whether the book has the intended emotional impact and feel.
Beta reader is an English term originally borrowed from the Information Technology/Software industry where beta testers will try to find problems with a piece of computer software before its release.
Difference to other roles
A dedicated proofreader usually only looks at grammar and spelling and is a paid professional - although this role may or may not be covered by beta readers as well. A critique partner is usually a trained writer who offers to test read with the angle of an author, unlike a beta reader who has usually no notable experience in writing. A beta reader can also serve as an alpha reader when reading a book draft that is still missing the ending or completely unrevised, while a beta reader will usually get a draft that has usually gone at least through one revision.
- Karen Hellekson, Kristina Busse (2006). Fan Fiction and Fan Communities in the Age of the Internet: New Essays. McFarland. pp. 15, 43, 172–179. ISBN 0786454962.
- "What Is a Beta Reader? (with picture)". wiseGEEK. Retrieved 2018-03-24.