I believe strongly that beta reading and publishing is essential for identifying and connecting with your readers, early marketing, crowdfunding, preselling, and polishing your prose. Find out more about how you can use beta publishing to motivate you to finish writing and even make money on your book before you finish it in the Self-Publishing Boot Camp Guide for Authors, 4th Edition.
IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER
BetaBooks is by far my favorite beta reading tool. It’s a browser-based beta readers platform for sharing your manuscript and collecting feedback from your beta readers.
Your readers will love how easy and professional it feels to read and comment from any device and you will love the way it centralizes all the feedback.
The founders developed the platform to solve their own problem collecting reader feedback, and it shows. I used BetaBooks to share this book with my beta readers.
No more converting between formats, or dealing with you-know-who who can never manage to open your files. Invite your readers by email, and you’re done.
Receive comments and track your readers’ comments chapter by chapter and version by version. It saves so much time, you’ll never wonder who’s read what again. Filter your comments by reader, chapter, or character. Mark it as done when you’ve made the changes you want to make.
This is also a great tool for writing groups to share and comment on stories and books.
There are three ways to get readers to BetaBooks:
- Bring your own beta readers to the platform.
- Apply to share your book with The Beta Reader Pool.
- Join The Beta Exchange and exchange manuscripts with other authors for critique.
Start with their free membership for one book and a max of three readers. The next tier is $149.99 for unlimited books and a max of 20 readers. The premium tier is $349.99/annually with unlimited books and readers, an embeddable signup for to place on your website, MailChimp import and other features they are adding all the time.
I’m on the premium plan and consider it an awesome value and investment in my author-publisher business. After all, beta readers are book reviewers, too, and you will need those (estimated) 50 Amazon reviews on launch day to cause the Amazon recommendation engine to kick in and also to be able to qualify for BookBub promotions.
BetaReader.io is a cross-device reader and feedback management platform for authors to share their work with their beta readers. Like BetaBooks, it’s a web-based e-reader that centralizes feedback. It’s in private beta now so you need to request an invite.
Booksie is a free social publishing site that provides a place where writers and readers can connect from across the globe. Over the past seven years, tens of thousands of writers have posted hundreds of thousands of short stories, novel, poems, articles and more. Booksie is for writers 13+ (no adult content). Booksie organizes your portfolio and gives you tools (including a micro-blogger) to connect with your audience. You can feature certain work in your portfolio, embed images and video, tell your writers about the latest news (micro-blogging), and keep tabs of your fans.”
A Booksie spin-off, Booksiesilk, is for erotica and adult content. “BooksieSilk is an adult place to explore those fantasies, share them, and read what thoughts and guilty pleasures others are thinking up. Whether your fantasy is imagined or really happened, you have found the place to let others enjoy the pleasures of your mind.”
Bublish offers strong beta and social media marketing features like Book Bubbles with excerpts of your book presented professionally with your author photo, bio, and book cover. Embed them in your website or share on social media.
You can create your EPUB elsewhere or use their cloud-based tool. Once your book is on sale, your bubble can link to online stores with a BUY button. Realtime metrics show you which bubbles drive traffic to your website and social channels.
Bublish also offers an author marketplace where you can find professionals to help you with every aspect of publishing, similar to Reedsy and PubLaunch. Their ebook distribution service is in beta.
Freemium with $9.99/mo or $99/yr plans.
Facebook Notes is a great little publishing tool. You might commit to publishing your book so that your fans, even if it’s just your family and friends on Facebook, can hold you to a deadline.
Figment is an online community and self-publishing platform for young writers. Created by Jacob Lewis and Dana Goodyear, who both worked at The New Yorker, the site officially launched on December 6, 2010. Figment currently has over 300,000 registered users and over 370,000 ‘books’, or pieces of writing. Other features include frequent writing contests, a blog, forums, and The Figment Review. On February 27, 2012, Figment announced it would purchase and merge user bases with its rival site, Inkpop.com. On March 1, 2012, the two sites merged userbases and works. In 2013, Figment was acquired by Random House Children’s Group.” Make sure you read their terms of service before you sign up.
An ecommerce tool that you can use to pre-sell directly and beta publish to your list or as a place to store your files for access by readers and customers. Find details in Direct Sales.
An iterative publishing platform that you can use to develop your manuscript with the help of early readers while selling your book with a pay-as-you-want pricing system. It also formats your book into print and ebook formats you need to publish. Find details and an interviw with the co-founder in Direct Sales.
You can upload your stories and books to Scribd publically or privately and share them with your early readers. You can sell there, too. See Direct Sales Tools for details.
Wattpad is worth more than a glance. It’s the world’s largest community for readers and writers. They have 60 million monthly users across the world who read the 400+ million uploads by 2.4 million writers in 244 different countries and 55 different languages.
The site’s raison d’etre is for sharing and commenting on stories. Genre writers and authors with a young adult audience get the most traction, but they want to attract older, more mature readers, too. I have stories on Wattpad but they don’t get much traction and I like the way they’re presented. I keep hoping that the platform becomes more attractive to mature authors and readers.
Here’s how it works. Post your story on Wattpad, enter the metadata (keywords) and categories, and start being social. This is the key—being social. Find other authors like you and comment on their story and, hopefully, they’ll comment on yours.
Your story can be upvoted and a comments features allows readers to make comments on paragraphs. Readers can add your stories to their reading lists and mark it as a favorite. Wattpad curates a list of the best stories, called the Watties, which can also help float your stories to the top.
Wattpad blocks the copy/paste function, so you can post unpublished works on the site without worrying too much about copyright infringement.
Wattpad Premium for readers allows readers to get ad-free stories pushed to their mobile devices. The cost to subscribers is $5.99 or $59.99 per year and there is no cost to authors. They have a stated commitment that reading and writing on Wattpad will always be free.
Put your stories on Wattpad and let me know when you do. Maybe we can get a group of more mature, serious authors on the platform, and critique each other’s work!
Webook is geared towards discovering new writers and helping them on their path to publication. It brings together writers, readers, and literary agents, WEbook was launched in 2008, with corporate offices based in New York City.
In addition to providing a venue for writers to reach an audience, WEbook actively helps writers find agents through their AgentInBox service. This service pre-screens query letters, guaranteeing that queries will meet industry standards, and allows writers to choose agents from the list of those interested in specific genres. Writers can also easily tailor manuscript samples to make sure every agent gets what they’re looking for—AgentInbox will automatically match each agent with the right sample version.
One of the largest online writing communities, the site offers writing portfolios, email, a newsfeed, groups, contests, survey forms, madlibs, and submission tracking, as well as tutorials. Writing.com is geared to amateur writers.
How to get beta readers and critique partners
The Self-Publishing Boot Camp courses will help you with every aspect of self-publishing. Marketing starts at the very beginning in the Self-Publishing Freedom course, with finding your readers and turning them into super fans.