Here are answers to some of the most common questions we receive. If you have a question that's not on this list, or you want to know more, please feel free to email us via #.
- Why can I only see the feedback screen?
- What is a Beta Book?
- What is a Beta Reader?
- What is the difference between an editor and a beta reader?
- Why should I use an app instead of just emailing my friends a Word doc?
- Is this free?
- Does everyone have to create an account?
- Am I responsible for finding my own readers and bringing them to the site?
- What about copyrights?
- Can my readers print out chapters?
- Can anyone search for and find my book on beta books?
- Does a reader have to be online to use beta books?
- Do readers and writers have the same type of account?
- Can I volunteer to be a Beta Reader and find new authors to read for?
- Can I cancel my subscription without losing my data?
- I use X word processor, can I upload my manuscript?
- Can I use images?
- Can I use fancy custom formatting?
- Some places where I had italics, I see asterisks instead.
- Can a reader highlight sections and make inline comments, like Track Changes in Word?
- What are Collaborator Mode and View-only roles on the Pro plan?
- How do I add a Collaborator or Viewer?
- I love this so much! What can I do to make sure BetaBooks sticks around?
Why can I only see the feedback screen?
If you're stuck on the feedback screen and can't read the book, touch (or click) the speech bubble icon at the top right of the page to minimize the feedback sidebar. This is our most frequent email question so I am moving it up to the top of the list, after this the next questions resume in a more chronological fashion.
What is a Beta Book?
A Beta Book is a finished manuscript in its first or second draft stage. It's ready to read, but the author knows it still has some issues. Getting some people to read the book and give big-picture feedback is a great way to identify and solve those issues.
What is a Beta Reader?
A Beta Reader is anyone who is reading and giving feedback on a Beta Book :). Wikipedia has a bit more to say about it, if you're interested.
What is the difference between an editor and a beta reader?
An editor will help you with the details to make the mechanics of your manuscript better, and a beta reader will help you with big picture feedback to make the story better: does the plot work, did you hit the right emotional highs/lows, did you get the right genre conventions, is the pacing good, etc.
There are different kinds of editing, including developmental editing, which does focus on creating the story. But if you have completed your manuscript and it is still in its early stages (2nd or 3rd draft), what you should be looking for is reader feedback (market research) to be sure you're on the right track with your book. Definitely still hire an editor once you've completed any changes to your story.
Want to know more? Check out this great article by NY Book Editors.
Why should I use an app instead of just emailing my friends a Word doc?
In our experience, even though it's easy to send a document, at least one person has a problem opening the file, and everyone submits feedback at different times and in different formats. Also, you never know whether someone is actually reading or has forgotten.
Using BetaBooks for feedback makes it so that:
- Anyone with an internet connection can read your book on any device with a web browser. That, by itself, is a big time saver for you and your readers.
- Readers get a simple feedback form at the end of each chapter, so you and your reader can both track how much they've read and how much they have left to go.
- You can reply to reader feedback easily, and all your feedback from your readers stays organized in one place. Never lose track of good feedback again.
Is this free?
BetaBooks offers a free trial for authors wanting to upload a book and explore the app. It is and will always be free for readers.
For more info please see our pricing page.
Does everyone have to create an account?
Readers and authors both have to sign up. This is how we ensure your work is private and protect your publishing rights.
Am I responsible for finding my own readers and bringing them to the site?
If you currently don’t have readers, we have an option for you!
The Reader Directory.
The Reader Directory allows authors to search a list of individual readers who have expressed an interest in being beta readers for new authors.
The process is simple:
Authors search the directory and find someone they think will like their book.
The author sends a query and a sample chapter to that reader.
That reader can accept or decline.
If readers decline they are encouraged to provide a constructive critique
The Directory is awesome but it is not a replacement for finding your own beta community. It is merely a way to find additional feedback
Disclaimer: The Directory is not a part of the free trial and we expect authors and readers to manage their interactions and establish expectations about privacy and trust between themselves. BetaBooks doesn't relationship manage, though we will step in if people become abusive towards each other.
What about copyrights?
Our stance on copyrights is simple:
As an author you retain all rights to your work, period.
We're deeply concerned with protecting your intellectual property, and preserving your first publishing rights. Thus, anything that you post on BetaBooks is private, and only people you invite can read your content. You can also deactivate a book at any time, which preserves all the feedback you've collected while locking out all readers from seeing it any more.
Can my readers print out chapters?
Yes. Chapters will print nicely from just about any browser, so if you have readers that want to print first and then read, they can. Remember, only people you invited to your book can read it, so only your invited readers can print chapters.
Can anyone search for and find my book on beta books?
No. Only people you explicitly invite to read your manuscript can read it.
Does a reader have to be online to use beta books?
Yes, for now. We are thinking about ways to support offline reading while keeping it super easy to access a book and fully protecting the author’s publishing rights. We don’t have an answer for that yet, but it’s certainly something we'd like to support in the future.
Do readers and writers have the same type of account?
Yes. That may change in the future but currently there is one account type. That means if you were invited as a reader and are also an author who would like to upload a book and start your own beta go right ahead.
Can I volunteer to be a Beta Reader and find new authors to read for?
Yes! By joining the Reader Directory.
The Reader Directory allows readers to enter their genre preferences, what they do not want to read, areas of personal expertise, and favorite authors.
Readers can then decide whether they want to read the book or not. If they decide not to read the book we ask that readers send back feedback on the author’s pitch so the author can do a better job querying their book next time.
Disclaimer: We expect authors and readers to manage their interactions and establish expectations about privacy and trust between themselves. BetaBooks doesn't relationship manage though we will step in if people become abusive towards each other.
Can I cancel my subscription without losing my data?
Absolutely. Cancelling your subscription will prevent you from sending invites and receiving new feedback, but you will still have access to all books and associated feedback. Simply turn auto-renew back on when you're ready to beta again.
I use X word processor, can I upload my manuscript?
Yes! You can always copy and paste chapters into the app, and adjust formatting in the app if needed.
Hundreds of writers are using BetaBooks with all kinds of different software, so we're sure your format will be ok. But, if you are having a problem uploading your book please email us and we will help!
Can I use images?
Yes! Our pro plan supports uploading images and embedding them in your book.
Can I use fancy custom formatting?
No. BetaBooks limits formatting to paragraphs, italics, blockquotes, and section breaks.
This is a carefully considered choice. The reason we do this is, there are innumerable devices and screen sizes out there, and it's critical that your book look nice and readable on all of them. More than half of readers use their phone or tablet to read on BetaBooks. When you do fancy formatting designed for print or wide screen monitors, it might look right on your screen but it probably won't look nice on everyone's screen. We've done the hard work of designing a simple manuscript format that looks professional and clean on every device.
Keep in mind, your readers understand they're here to beta your book, not critique your choice of fonts. They want it to be cleanly presented and easy to read, but they don't expect it to have advanced typesetting.
Another benefit of simplifying formatting is it helps you stay focused on writing a good story, not fussing with software :)
Some places where I had italics, I see asterisks instead.
This happens when your word processor inserts hidden codes into your text that we cannot process. Microsoft Word is mainly guilty of this, though it sometimes happens with other word processors as well. If this happens only once in a while, the best thing is just to select the text in the chapter editor, un-italicise the area all around it, and then re-italicise just the part you want.
If, when you paste in your chapter, you get a LOT of asterisks or other weird artifacts showing up, then please email us and let us know. It's possible there's a bug specific to your word processor, and we may be able to help.
Can a reader highlight sections and make inline comments, like Track Changes in Word?
Authors have the option to turn on inline commenting in addition to the default end of chapter feedback. This mode allows readers to highlight spelling errors, mark highlighted sections with various emojis, or leave written comments on specific sections.
The default setting on BetaBooks is
What are Collaborator Mode and View-only roles on the Pro plan?
A Collaborator can edit the book and see feedback. A Viewer can only see feedback. Neither can delete the book.
How do I add a Collaborator or Viewer?
- Invite the user to read the book
- Once they've accepted, click on the Invitations tab and locate them under the Manage Readers section
- Use the box to the right of their name to select Viewer or Collaborator
I love this so much! What can I do to make sure BetaBooks sticks around?
Aw, shucks, thanks! Just use the site to polish your work, invite your beta readers and fellow authors to use the site, and let us know how we can improve.