Beta reader demographics

As I was seeking potential beta readers, I’ve began to notice some similarities – and realized there are a few main types of people doing beta reading. So today, I share my personal classification of a kind.

Stay-at-home parents

If one parent stays with a child while the other works for the family, it least to windows of time when the baby/toddler sleeps. Giving this time to beta reading is appearing to some people, as I’ve learned: not only the parent gains some free books but also uses the time to help someone else – which seems like a double win.

There’s one disadvantage, though: the chance such a person will read (and give feedback) on anything resembling a schedule is slim to none – and thus might be a poor fit for someone who wants to edit on a regular schedule.

Students

A bookish student might seem like a treasure. In days with computer games, they might seem like a rarity… but if you manage to spark the inner geek, there’s a strong potential. I’d say this type would be a good fit for someone writing Sci-Fi and superhero stuff (in case of male beta readers) or paranormal romance (in case of female beta readers), based on the stereotypical genre demographics.

Stepping stone practice

What I mean by this clumsy term are people who finished studying/training in fields such as literature, lenguistics, and editing. Beta reading gives them a chance to practice their skills before heading into the ‘bigger world’ as professional editors.

Where I see potential in this group is there’s a chance for two-way feedback: they’ll try to do their best to help you but also try to see the other side and thus grow their skills. The anonymity (compared to working with classmates) also allows for some detachment and no hurt feelings in case of harsher feedback – something that will come handy in their future.

Fellow writers (beta swaps)

One of the best outcomes: as a fellow writer, they know the struggle from the same PoV. In the best case, you’ll both learn from one another – to see issues, to describe them, to share your thoughts constructively – all of which can help you as a writer. As someone who went into more swaps than one-sided beta reads, I know there’s much I can learn from it (even though I fear it at the same time), especially when it comes to seeing issues in my own writing that I either don’t want to see or can’t exactly pinpoint.

And there’s something great in working as a pair, learning from both reading and writing at the same time.


Of course, there will be those who don’t fall into any of the abovementionted, those are just the main categories I’ve observed during my beta reader searches. If you look at beta reading groups and Goodreads, you begin to see patterns sooner or later – which is what led me to these thoughts.

Now, what about you? Have you noticed some kind of pattern? Is there a specific group you’ve founf to be more helpful than the others? Feel free to share your opinion.

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