The Questions I Ask My Alpha and Beta Readers

The Questions I Ask My Alpha and Beta Readers

This is part III of my short series on Alpha and Beta Readers in your book editing process.

Part One: Editing with Alpha Readers
Part Two: Editing with Beta Readers
Part Three: The Questions I Ask My Alpha and Beta Readers
Part Four: Honest Alpha and Beta Readers

I wanted to cover some of the specific and common questions I ask people after they have edited my book. My books (to be published in 2018) are novels aimed at younger readers (10-14ish) so the questions will be very different for a non-fiction book or perhaps even a book for young adults.

I take all sorts of advice and feedback from my readers–as much as they will give! For the most part, I just listen to anything they will tell me. But there are also specific questions I typically ask. Now, before you go through the list, you’ll notice that a LOT of these questions are about specific characters. A fiction book is nothing without likeable or realistic or catchy characters. People need to either love your characters or love to hate them (villains).

 

Here are some of my questions:

Who was your favorite character?

This is an extremely important question! I have learned that one of my characters needs major revision. He’s a favorite for some of my readers of Book One, but the qualities that make him awesome are missing in Book Two. I have learned from this that I need to put those qualities back in his character in Book Two.  When I wrote Book Three, I made sure his qualities were VERY present.

This also gives me insight into what is connecting with my readers. It’s not always the character I thought.  The follow-up question, of course, is, “Why?”

 

What was your favorite part of the book?

Oh, is this so helpful!!! It shows me what really has caught people. It also shows me what parts of storytelling has the capacity to catch people (humor? adventure? suspense?).

 

What was the funniest part of the book?

The books I’ve written are intended to be funny, so when I’m hearing from people what made them laugh, it shows me what connects up with people in terms of humor! What tickles the funny bone? Sometimes readers have told me they laughed out loud at a certain point. What’s interesting is that it often wasn’t the part I thought people would laugh at.

 

What did you think of the main female character?

This is an important question for me. I wasn’t sure if I could write a strong female character. As a guy, I wondered if I could really portray this character well. I wanted to write a female character who was strong, intelligent and wise.  I also wanted a female character who had people around her she could and would trust.  I needed some feedback to help me to understand how to write her well.

In asking people’s opinion of this character, I was trying to find out if I was able to write her the way intended and if she connects with my readers as a strong person.

 

What did you think of Jep?

Jep is a very unique character. He’s a chicken. He plays a big part in the book. I needed to know what people thought. In the end, it turned out he was a favorite of some of my Alpha and Beta Readers.

 

What did you think about Masha and the Soup thing?

This is a wildly unusual part of the book. You’ll have to read it to see what I mean. I’m not looking to hear if they thought this part of the story was realistic. It’s not realistic. It’s not intended to be realistic. I’m wondering if I explained it well enough for them to see it happening in their minds. I was pleased to find that my readers could imagine it. They could see it in their minds, even though it was unrealistic. I like Masha’s character and I can’t stand her character. I’d like to hear your thoughts when you read the book.

 

What did you think about Harv?

Harv is a very odd character in the book. It’s hard to put your finger on him. Who he is, what he’s like and what he’s about are not overly clear. I find people will give me a certain reaction about Harv and then if I ask them for more, they will get a confused look on their faces. I wrote Harv to be a mystery… I like him! The confusion on people’s faces is what I’m looking for.

 

What did you think about the ending?

I have never quite been satisfied with the ending. I’ve received some advice on how to fix it and I’ve implemented some of the advice, but I’m still not happy with it. I like the ending of Book Two, but just not Book One. So I keep asking. People tell me it’s good, but I keep asking. Maybe this is just a struggle with me.

 

What did you think about the book overall?

I ask this in different ways, but it’s important to hear.  It’s fine to learn what someone thought of the details, but you need to hear the overall. Is this something they would buy? Would they recommend it to others? Did they enjoy reading it? Do they think other people will enjoy it?

Ask these questions!

So there you have it! These are some of the questions I ask when it comes to my Alpha and Beta Readers!

Don’t forget to check out:

Part One: Editing with Alpha Readers
Part Two: Editing with Beta Readers
Part Three: The Questions I Ask My Alpha and Beta Readers
Part Four: Honest Alpha and Beta Readers

Comment below with some of the key questions you ask your Alpha and Beta Readers and your thoughts on this process!

Shawn

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