Every author needs feedback on their novel, but it can be hard to get the quality feedback you
need. There are three options you can choose from.
You may even want to use all three resources and see which you benefit the most from and refine your process for your next novel. An important aspect to keep in mind is when selecting people to read your manuscript is the genre. Make sure those you contract avidly read the genre of your novel.
Alpha and beta readers.
You’ve probably heard of beta readers, but there are alpha readers who read the story before it’s
complete all the way up to the first draft. If they advertise themselves as alpha readers, they
understand the writing will be rough, the plot incomplete, or characters not quite rounded yet.
The purpose of alpha readers is to get a reader’s impressions of what your manuscript needs.
Beta readers read your manuscript after it’s completed and has been through a few drafts. They
will offer insights on the overall reading experience, plot, characters, pacing, and general
For both of these, avid readers can work, but people who advertise themselves as alpha or beta
readers have the experience and know what to look for and how to give constructive feedback.
They may ask for a small fee to read and write a report.
Critique partners or writing groups.
Joining a writing group or finding a critique partner can be immensely beneficial. Fellow writers
can give you detailed feedback on various aspects of your writing, such as plot, character
development, dialogue, and style. They can offer a more nuanced perspective and help identify
areas that may need improvement.
If you choose this option, keep in mind they will probably ask for feedback in return and may be
just as busy as you are, so make sure you and they have the time before committing to a swap.
Once you have revised your manuscript to the best of your abilities, hiring a professional editor
greatly enhances the quality. Editors have the expertise to provide in-depth feedback on plot
structure, character development, writing style, grammar, and more. They will offer invaluable
insights and can help you polish your work to a professional standard.
An editor may call this read through a manuscript review, an assessment, or a critique. Expect to
pay a moderate amount for an editor to review your manuscript. They will spend hours reading
your book and writing a detailed report about what is working and what can be improved. And if
you like their work, you can hire them to edit your novel through all editing stages.
Any way you chose to get feedback, make sure you ask specific questions of each person and
explain the level of review you want.
If you want their help with the plot, let them know that. Or if you want feedback more on the
characters and their arcs, tell them.
Provide them with questions and guidance so they know before they begin reading what they
should be looking for. Stay away from yes or no question formats.
What made you bond with XX character? If you didn’t bond with them, what do you think
should be added so they become someone you could relate to?
I’m looking for help with subplots. Where are some places you think the story would benefit
from adding a subplot or two?
I’ve gotten some feedback that says there is a lack of conflict. I’ve revised based on their
comments, but I’m still unsure if there is enough or if it’s in the right places. Let me know where
you think things come too easily for my characters.
When you contact readers or editors, ask about their experience and what they love about your
Use alpha and beta readers, critique partners and writing groups and editors.
Ask detailed questions for the best feedback.
Finding the right people to give you guidance may be a trial-and-error experience, but using your
resources and these tips will get the best chance at getting quality feedback for your manuscript.
Kristin is an internationally renowned professional editor, specializing in developmental, line,
and copy editing of speculative fiction. She’s edited over sixty manuscripts, including two bestsellers. Many of her clients are authors who self-publish or submit to agents and publishers. Kristin is a contracted editor for Brooke Warner Coaching, LLC., She Writes Press, Greenleaf Book Group, as well as the editorial service companies—Book Butchers and The Literary Consultancy. At Literary Wanderlust, a traditional publisher, she held the position of assistant editor.
To learn more about Kristin, visit https://www.nolandediting.com.