You've just finished self-editing your manuscript and you believe you're ready for the next step, professional editing. But before you reach out to a professional editor, it might be a good idea to pass your manuscript on to a few online readers (known as beta readers) for feedback on your book. Beta readers can help point out plot holes in your manuscript that you may have missed.
They also serve as unbiased, honest, third-party feedback because they will tell you things your best friend, husband, parents, or work colleagues will hesitate to tell you. Here are a few steps to help you find the right fit when shopping for beta readers.
Search in Online Forums: Online forums are a great place to connect with other authors, readers, editors, and book reviewers. Be specific with what you are looking for. Be sure to point out that you are not looking for a copyedit but just a read through to share honest feedback. Another place to search is on job boards such as Upwork and Fiverr.
Send your manuscript and set a deadline: Give your beta readers ample time to read and review your manuscript but set a deadline for when you would like to receive feedback. Five to six weeks is a reasonable amount of time to expect a response back.
Look for Common Themes: When you get your manuscript back, look for common themes and reflect on how you can improve upon the areas that need work. Do not take feedback personally. Remember that these beta readers don't know you, they are simply giving feedback to your work.
Step Back to recharge: Take the feedback you receive in good stride and change the things you agree need fixing and leave the things you don't. If possible, step away from the manuscript for a few weeks to recharge and get over any hurt feelings. Then come back and get to work, confident that your book will find its audience as long as it is written well. Also, don't forget that a professional editor can help you with your areas of weakness, so don't be discouraged.
Revise Your Manuscript: After you've given the feedback some serious thought, go ahead and revise your manuscript based on the feedback you've received. However, only change the things you agree with. Be decisive, make a revision plan and implement it as soon as possible.
Now it's time to reach out to a professional editor: After you have made your revisions based on your beta readers' feedback, go ahead and reach out to a professional editor. There is no need to send your manuscript back to your beta readers after implementing their feedback. A professional editor will help you iron out the rest of the kinks in your manuscript before you send it out into the world.
In all, feel confident in your work and be proud of what you have created. While your editor is working on your manuscript, go ahead and sit back and relax, or go on and get started on writing your next book! You've got this!