Do you pay for beta readers?

I recently saw some different discussions on media about what beta readers charge per word when offering services. I was wondering, do you pay your beta readers? If so, why? If not, why not?


Nope. I think anyone can be a beta reader (although more experience reading generally makes some better than others), and I would pay for a specialized skill. Beta readers are providing a general impression of the story and where they got confused, bored, or leaned in to read faster. I don’t expect them to provide feedback beyond that, because then I think you’re getting into the realm of editing. Editing is a service that does require a specialized skill set and makes more sense to pay for, I think.


I’m not actually trying to go pro so maybe my opinion doesn’t count, but… when it comes to BETA READERS, as in, the first people to read the story and tell you what they think… I’d never do that. IMO the whole point of a beta reader is to just tell you how they react as a reader.

I probably wouldn’t pay people for that. At most I think I’d exchange favors.

Actually EDITING is a different story. A paid editor should have an eye for knowing how to fix the story. A beta reader doesn’t have to.


No. And many of the pro authors I know don’t either. I have paid for editing services, for good or ill. When you start paying for someone to read your story you better be getting a fairly professional response from them AKA spelling, plot build, copy editing etc. The margins for any writer just starting out are slim enough, unfortunately.

As your readership grows, you’ll find plenty of willing folks that just want free stories in advance. Facebook groups can be a good place to find them, likely here as well (though I find many are looking for ‘reads for reads’)

And if you ARE looking for critiques on a budget, invest some time into Scribophile. That community does some great work and has some very professional people taking advantage of the service.



Beta readers are generally never paid. The payment is essentially being able to read the work way before everyone else. It’s also a job typically meant for as wide a range as possible in terms of skill, from hardcore readers to average people, and it makes very little sense to pay someone for a general personal opinion.

Editing, on the other hand is a paid service, as it requires quite a bit of work beyond just reading through things, and requires actual skills that take a fair while to learn and get any good at.

If someone asks for payment as a beta reader (someone offering opinions about a general work) they’re wasting your time and money. There are plenty of places online full of beta readers willing to read your work, it’s just a matter of finding the right crowd. Save the cash for a professional editor who will actually need to skill to go through your work with a fine-tooth comb and an actual professional eye.


Hi folks! I know the difference between betas, CPs, editors, etc, and was just curious of your personal experiences after I’d seen a few discussions on Twitter around paid betas – so not quite advice, but more so your experiences. This is all wonderful discussion though for those who might be thinking of paying one.

I personally haven’t paid for betas – I’ve got a pretty good line up of readers that read for me. The conversation around paid struck me interested, since I do a lot of beta reading myself, lol!

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If they get stories to read for free they should not be paid. Unless the story is not in a state to be read. I consider my WP readers as betas - if only they commented a bit more. If we start paying people for their reading experience (which is what I got told recently by somebody pissed off about the Paid Stories), then we really are in trouble!


I have both paid and unpaid betas. The unpaid ones are usually those from WP that give me feedback as I write and post my first draft.

The paid ones dig their teeth in before the book goes to my editor for final copy edits. There is extensive feedback and discussions on characters, structure, potential plot holes etc – in a nutshell, they save me the developmental edit round I used to pay thousands of dollars for, so they are much more cost effective. I also have one book I write in I-narration from a male POV and the paid beta reader is a guy to give the voice a more masculine edge and authenticity.

Those paid beta readers are people I worked with for years and have a close relationship with. I trust their feedback and our styles click. I don’t think I would hire just anyone to beta read, so it’s something that grew with time. However, when I tried to find a more cost effective way to bring my books to market, I found this to be the most feasible solution.


I have in the past. What I like about paid beta services is the professionalism. There’s a deadline, which is important when you’re indie publishing and working to your own deadlines. Plus I found the feedback really valuable, and with some, you can detail what you want the beta to pay particular attention to. Friends & readers who beta for free are awesome, but often it’s a pain in the butt chasing them up or even getting them to find the time to read a manuscript. A paid service delivers exactly what you want, and the one I used was cheap - from memory is was $50.


Most, I think, simply get their Betas from such writing circles and buddies as they have acquired. I can see a professional, under deadline, perhaps needing to have his/her galleys or final drafts on articles and such done on demand, and so paying for a service of some sort, but more common, as others here pointed out, is maybe paying for editorial services (editing), which often includes quite a lot of beta opinion and suggestion. Usually anyone who has been writing for a time has several people willing to read and provide general comment. Novels usually take a bit of time to write, and there is usually time for reads in there. While I’ve had a few who like to read finished material cover to cover, Betas done say two chapters per, over a period of time are usually fine. Peoples memories not being that bad over all, and possibly actually enjoy the experience. Also that emulates well how people actually read novels anyway.They pick it up, they put it down; they pick it back up, etc. So along with line editors asides, paying up rather than returning the favor is not an issue. Your mileage may vary. But book clubs and circles are generally around for that purpose. It’s what does the reader experience, not pouring over Webster’s to correct spelling, all that.

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Okay, but that’s more than what I see as a Beta reader. If you use it in lieu of developmentals and get detailed feedback, then yes, it should be paid.
A beta who reads and tells me at the end “It worked really well, only the beginning was a bit slow” also tells me something I will react to but I would not pay for that.

Well,usually a Beta is a test audience appreciation of a work, even if there is a questionaire attached to it, so,yeah. While a beta might pick up on a few lost commas, or dropped logic concerns, I usually get most of that from people approaching the work in an editorial effort. Either can be paid or unpaid, though people expecting a very tight return of effort on say, a MS they have on the burner, and want equal attention paid to, well…

It’s a tangent to the paid/not paid discussion, but does anyone here use betabooks for beta reader feedback? I’ve tried it out a bit, though havent queried any writers to read for me yet.

No. I don’t want a professional reader giving me that kind of feedback. I want someone with the profile of my target audience.


No, I’ve never paid my beta readers. What I do give them is (a) a final copy of the ebook when it’s done, and (b) offer them a printed copy “at cost” – they pay for the shipping and any out-of-pockets I have for printing or purchasing copies from my publisher.


Can I ask where you find your paid beta readers? Or are they perhaps relationships that have developed over the years?

Mine are readers who I developed a relationship with for many years.

One of my proofreaders does beta reads (she is also an editor). She must be pretty good since she is always booked months in advance, so there are definitely people out there that advertise for these type of services (my beta readers don’t do this professionally). Of course she also charges more than what I usually pay.

Okay, that’s what I thought. I was just wondering. I’ve had my story beta read (for free! :smile:) and got really good feedback from several beta readers, so I’m kind of looking for what the next step would be. I’d be willing to pay beta readers who would go deeper into the story, I just don’t know where to find serious actors.

What next step are you looking for?

I, for example, use critique partners (other writers) before betas. I generally work with my critique group chapter by chapter as I write. Then I ask a couple of my critique partners to do a read and review once I’ve what I think is my final revision.

Betas are readers in my target audience, not critique partners or editors), who provide feedback from a reader’s pov. I don’t want those people to be writers who are looking at craft. I want true reader feedback.

For me that’s the last step before prepping for submission or publication.

That’s exactly what I’m asking myself - what next step am I looking for. I guess I’m looking for something more professional, some type of editing and at some point proofreading (I guess that’s the last thing to do), since beta readers are any type of reader with or without writing experience. I haven’t tried critique partners, but it would probably be very helpful. Do you critique each others texts or how does it work?