You’ve just finished a manuscript. The heavy lifting is done and you feel satisfied with your work. Your critique group is giving you a thumbs up as they read the story. Still, it’s not ready for the editor. You need a beta reader.

A beta reader is someone who reads your work and offers input while it is in draft form. They look for typos, grammatical errors, continuity and plot issues, in order to help improve  your work before its submitted to a publishing.  Some beta readers will do more than check for typographical errors. They may be willing to extend their generosity and time by critiquing and commenting on plot issues, characterization, and believability.

Often, beta readers will turn into critique partners if you’re well-matched and find yourself returning to them.

As for finding beta readers, my advice is to sign up for a writing forum like Absolute Write and to post in the appropriate section that you’re looking for beta readers.  Often times, writers looking for beta readers will offer to do the same in return.

Another way to find beta readers is to use your blog.  Just put a post up detailing what you’re looking for.  Some of your regular readers might be more than happy to help.

Basically, If you have a way to connect with other writers, use it.  If you don’t, start putting yourself out there and network. In my opinion, it’s good to use both non-writers and writers for beta readers as they’ll approach the task differently.