While setting up to publish your book on Amazon, you’re allowed to select up to seven keywords or phrases to use to help readers find your book in a search. There are a lot of books written on the subject of keywords, but I will give a brief explanation of what they are and why they are important to getting readers to notice your book.

Keywords are words or phrases that readers may use to look up books they want to read or subjects they want to learn more about. For instance, a reader may type in the words “horror novel” into the Amazon or Google search bar, then the most popular searches or relevant searches related to those words will show up. Some readers might stop at the first suggestion, and others may refine their search even more, maybe typing in something like: cosmic horror fiction. So you want to use those seven keywords carefully, using words or phrases that are closest to the exact genre of your book.

You will have to read Amazon’s Terms of Service to make sure that you’re not using keywords that aren’t allowed – like book titles and author names. If you want to target certain books or authors, you can do that with AMS ads and Facebook ads, but not with the keywords you use to publish your book. But you can still come up with some good keywords. If you’ve written a haunted house book, the word haunted house might be a good keyword to use. Or the word haunted, or haunting, or the phrase haunted house fiction. There are many words and phrases to choose from.

So how do you come up with the best seven keywords? One thing to keep in mind is to try not to use the same words that are in your title, genre category, or description because these words may already come up in searches related to your book. So, once you’ve ruled out those keywords, and forbidden words, you can start looking for the best keywords to use.

Here are some suggestions for finding the right keywords:

You could get a piece of paper and a pen and just brainstorm. Think of what your book is really about and what readers might type in the suggestion bar while looking for a book like yours. You could come up with a list of hundreds of keywords (and make sure you keep this list because you can use a lot of these words and phrases in your AMS ads if you choose to utilize those). You can only use seven keywords and phrases at a time, so pick the best seven without repeating words from you title, selected genres, and description.

Another tool you can use is the Amazon search bar. You type in a word and see what Amazon suggests. For instance, you type in the word horror then suggestions will pop down like the phrases: horror books or horror fiction. You could go through the alphabet using a core word like horror. Type in the word horror (or whatever word you’re using) and then the letter a and see what is suggested. Then the letter b, then the letter c, and so on. And again, make sure you write these suggestions down and keep the list in case you need to use it later.

Another way to find keywords is to use software such as KDP Rocket (and I think the name of the software has been changed to Publisher Rocket). I haven’t used this software or others like it yet, so I can’t really comment on it, but I’ve heard good things about it.

Now that you’ve selected your keywords, you’ll want to keep track of your sales data. I would suggest keeping track of your sales daily, writing down your sales and page reads, and then keeping track monthly using your monthly reports. As you keep track of your sales data, make sure you note if you’ve changed keywords, descriptions, covers, or had any kind of promotions or used any kind of advertising. By keeping track of your sales data daily, you can see what’s working better than others. If you decide to change your seven keywords or phrases (which you can do any time), you can tell if the changes are helping with more sales or if sales are decreasing.

So get your keywords list created, and when you’re ready to publish your book you’ll have them available.

Hope this helps someone out there.

Until next time . . .



Just wanted to let everyone know that the second and third books in my Dark Days post-apocalyptic series are now available on Amazon.

You can pick Chaos: Dark Days Book 2 up here: www.amazon.com/dp/B07TVYNW19

Dark Days 2 (a)

You can find Exposure: Dark Days Book 3 here: www.amazon.com/dp/B07TY5S1S8

Dark Days 3 (a)

As the Ripper Plague spreads across the country, we meet new characters in Books 2 and 3. But as they see dreams of Emma calling to them, and dreams of the shadowy man amassing a dark army to stop them, they begin their journey south to come together.

I’m working on the finishing touches on Refuge: Dark Days Book 4, and I hope to have it available in the next week or so.

Please feel free to share this post and help spread the word. Thank you!


Wow! This year seems like it’s going by fast. Once again, I set lofty goals for myself this year, and I’ve already fallen short of what I wanted to achieve at this time. But the year isn’t over yet, so maybe I’ll get close to meeting those goals.

I’ve published two books so far this year: Possession, the next book in my Exorcist’s Apprentice series, and then a little over a month ago, Collapse, the first book in my Dark Days post-apocalyptic series.

I’m working hard to get the next three books in the Dark Days series on Amazon within the next few weeks, so hopefully by the end of July they will all be on there and available to read.

Here’s the cover for the second book in the Dark Days series:

Dark Days 2 (a)

And here’s the cover for the third book in the series:

Dark Days 3 (a)

And here’s the cover for the fourth book in the series:

Dark Days 4 (a)

I’ve gotten the fifth book completed and almost ready to go, and I’m in the middle of the first draft for Book 6. I’ve also begun outlining Book 7 and Book 8. I’ve had a blast writing this series and I can’t wait to write more.

I’m also working on the third book in The Exorcist’s Apprentice series and on two stand-alone thrillers.

Thank you to all of you who have taken the time to read my books. I know there are millions of books out there to choose from, and I’m honored if you chose to read one of mine. Like I’ve said many times before, being an author is a dream come true for me, and it only happens because of readers like you. Thank you!

I’ll be back in the middle of July with another Writer’s Tip, and I’ll post my usual list for Halloween and an end-of-the-year progress report in December.

Until next time . . .




You’ve got an amazing book you’ve written. It’s been edited and polished, and now it’s ready to be published. You’ve gotten a great cover designed. So now what’s the next important detail? The description of your book.

First, let me point out that some call the description a blurb, but these are two different things. A blurb is usually a sentence or two touting a book, usually by a newspaper, book reviewer, or another author. For instance: “. . . scary as hell” would be a blurb, and then the author’s name or newspaper or book reviewer would be listed. A blurb can also be kind of like a tagline on a movie poster or a DVD cover. “In space no one can hear you scream” is a famous tagline for the movie Alien.

So the description for your book that you would have on Amazon or another retailer wouldn’t be a blurb (but could have a tagline or blurb in it somewhere). Your description is also not a logline or a synopsis. A logline is a screenwriting term for a one or two sentence description of a movie, usually under 50 words. A synopsis is the entire story boiled down to a page or a few pages. A synopsis tells the entire story: the beginning, the middle, and the ending.

You do not want to write a synopsis for your description, and you definitely don’t want to give away the ending of your book in your description, or too many plot twists and turns. What you want to do with your description is to entice the reader into either buying your book, or at least intrigue them enough to want to read the first 10% in the Look Inside feature on Amazon.

Once a title, cover, and price have piqued a reader’s interest, the description can often be the last hurdle (and sometime the reviews, but we’ll get more into reviews in future posts) before purchase. So the description is your chance to hook your reader into buying or borrowing your book.

So, how do you write the description? There are many books written on this subject, but I would definitely recommend Bryan Cohen’s book. That book, and others, will go into a lot more detail than I will here, but I’ll try to give some pointers.

First, as I said before, you do not want to make your description a synopsis of your book. You want to introduce your main character(s) to the reader, the main problems or obstacles the characters are facing or trying to overcome, and also a main adversary (or could also be the obstacle). And you’ll want to reveal the setting of the story (place and time). This is for fiction; I’ll get into nonfiction shortly because they require very different descriptions. In fiction, you want to set up the story and then raise questions: Will the two characters fall in love? Will they get away from the evil characters? Will they survive the disaster?

As far as structuring your description, I believe you should keep the description pretty short. I know it seems counterintuitive that readers who love to read entire books hate to read long descriptions, but it seems to be the case sometimes. You don’t want your book description too short, either. You need to have enough there to get the reader interested in your book.

I like to try to use the three-to-four paragraph structure for descriptions. A short paragraph, then another, then another, and then maybe one more. It could be three brief paragraphs, or it could be five. But having large blocks of text can look intimidating, so breaking up your text into easier-to-read paragraphs can really help.

I think you should try to incorporate your genre into your description. If you’re writing a horror novel, then try to make your description scary or foreboding (without being cheesy, of course). Action? Make your description fast-paced, maybe with short and powerful sentences. Romance? Introduce the two characters who must overcome all the obstacles and fall in love.

It’s a good idea to study descriptions of books, especially books in your genre. Read descriptions by other indie authors, but also read the descriptions of traditionally published books. Go to a bookstore or used bookstore or library and study the backs of paperback novels or the descriptions inside the dust jacket. Those descriptions were written by professionals who were trying to get you to buy the paperback or hardcover book.

Like studying book covers in your genre, it’s helpful to study descriptions in your genre. I’ve heard that writing the description can be as hard as writing the book. And it can be difficult to boil a book down into a synopsis or a description, but getting it right can be rewarding.

For fiction, you’re telling a story. For nonfiction, you’re often helping to solve a problem or giving information on a subject. Nonfiction descriptions should be structurally different from fiction. Again, it’s important to read the descriptions of other books that are similar to the one you’re going to publish. For nonfiction, you’re going to want to make your description longer than fiction because you’ll want to pack as much information into your description to make the reader want to read your book. For instance, if you’ve written a diet or exercise book, you would want to describe how and why your book is different from so many other books. You’ll want to show that you’ll be giving the reader valuable information for the money and time they spend. Even though your overall description may be a lot longer than a fiction description, I still think it’s a good idea to break up long text into shorter paragraphs, and using bullet points can be a big help.

Remember, after your book is published it’s easy to change your description if you want to. You could experiment with different techniques and see which ones work better by keeping track of your sales (you can also track the success or failure of keywords this way). And you should be keeping track of your sales/borrows, at least monthly, but weekly or daily is even better. How will you know if a new description or keyword or marketing promotion is working well if you don’t keep track of your sales data? Even if writing/publishing books is a hobby for you and money isn’t that important, there’s still no better data than your sales/borrows. Even if this is a hobby, I’m sure you want to reach as many readers as possible. Why else would you write?

After you’ve written a description and you think it’s perfect, try reading your description to your family or friends. Or send your description to other authors you know or beta readers, if you have them. Or, if you belong to an author group, show them your description and get their feedback.

So, you need to do some research on descriptions of other books in your genre, and then get to work on your own description. Write out several descriptions and see which one is working best by reading them to other people you know.

Hope this helps someone out there.

Until next time. . .



Dark Days 1 (a)

I’ve been working on this post-apocalyptic series for over a year, and the first book is now available on Amazon for .99 cents for a short time. I’ve got the next four books written and I will release them over the next month or so as I put the finishing touches on them. And I’m working on the sixth book now. This is my favorite story I’ve ever worked on so far, and I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I do. Please feel free to share with everyone you know.

You can find the first book here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07SCPL6QB


It started with rumors of a plague that turned people into flesh-eating predators. The governments of the world and the media tried to suppress it, but little by little the truth got out. The economy had been in a free-fall, banks closed, protests turned into riots, people began hoarding and panicking. And then on a Friday morning, the collapse came.

After the government office where Ray Daniels works shuts down, he just wants to get home to his wife and kids. On his arduous journey home, Ray gets a phone call from Craig, his supervisor, inviting him and his family to his home where the answers to the collapse and the Ripper Plague are waiting for him, but the call breaks up and Ray only hears the word Avalon.

When Ray gets home to his family, the TV stations have been replaced with a loop of the president of the United States declaring martial law. The electricity and water are shut off soon after that. They hole up in their bedroom for the night – they have no weapons, little food, and no information about why everything collapsed so quickly.

After Ray’s neighbor, Helen, holds a secret meeting to try to fight back against martial law, she asks Ray to help her blind daughter Emma, promising that Emma can help him and his family find the way to Avalon. But what is Avalon, and what does Emma know about it?

Hours later, after soldiers in gas masks take Helen away, Ray has no choice but to flee with is family. Society has crumbled within the last twenty-four hours. Hordes of flesh-eating infected are loose on the streets. The police and military are doing their best to fight back, but they are losing the battle now. The collapse is here, and Ray wants the answers that Craig has, but he must keep his family alive first.

I hope you’ll share this post and help spread the word. Thank you so much!




In previous posts we talked about writing your first draft, then the editing/revision process. We talked about getting a cover designed. Now you will have to format your book for either print or e-book readers, or both.

So how do you format your book? We’ll start with e-book formatting first. You could either hire this service out or format it yourself.

When it comes to doing the formatting yourself, I’m exclusive to Amazon so I can only tell you my experience with their formatting software. It’s easy through Amazon. When you download the software you can just upload your completed Word file into the program and it will format the book for you so that it’s able to be read on Kindle devices (and other devices like cell phones and tablets). It may take a little getting used to, but it’s not difficult at all.

If you don’t want to format the book yourself using software or a retailer’s software (like Kindle on Amazon), then you could hire a formatter to do the work for you. I’ve had many of my books formatted by a service (Dellaster Design), and I’ve always been happy with the results. I’m sure there are other formatters out there, so you would have to research them, just like you did with editing services and cover designers.

Whether you choose to format the book  yourself or hire the service out, you want to make sure your formatted book looks good on all devices. You want to make sure chapter headings are correct and that there aren’t any large blank areas in the book. If you have images in your book, you’ll want to make sure they look professional. You’ll want to make sure all of your links to websites work. You’ll want to check your Table of Contents and make sure you’re not missing a chapter. You are competing with traditionally published books and other indie authors for readers. If readers open your book and the formatting is funky or difficult to read, they may give up on your book, and all of your future books.

I’ve done both, formatted books myself and hired a service to do it. But I always check the final version on a Kindle previewer( which you can download from Amazon) just to make sure everything is exactly as it should be. Once you’re happy with your manuscript, you can upload your file and it’s ready to publish or ready for pre-order (whichever you prefer).

Once your book goes live, I would recommend buying a copy as quickly as possible and then looking it over on your Kindle or tablet (and even your cell phone) to make sure the experience for your readers is going to be what you intended it to be.

Print books can be a little more of a challenge to format and professional formatting services often either don’t do print books or charge a lot more to format them. I used to format my own print books with Createspace, but they’re not around anymore and I haven’t tried formatting the print books with Amazon yet. I’ve looked over some guides on Amazon, and I intend to get a lot more of my books into print soon, and when I do, I will update my progress.

Hope this helps someone out there.

Until next time . . .


I read a great article from Script Shadow about writers dealing with doubt and I wanted to share it with you.

Even though this article is aimed at screenwriters, I think the habits in this article would work for any writers. And even if you don’t write scripts, you could find a ton of useful advice on the Script Shadow blog, and I definitely recommend following it.

Here’s the link below:


Hope it helps someone out there.

Until next time . . .



Experts often agree that the two most important things to leave to the professionals when you’re self-publishing your book is editing and cover design. You want an error and typo-free book and a great cover. We’ve gone over editing in the previous posts and now it’s time to find a cover for your book.

You don’t have to wait until after you’ve finished writing your book to start designing a cover. In fact, it’s easier if you get the cover done before you’re ready to publish your book. One advantage of having your cover done early is that you can do a cover reveal on your blog or social media pages, drumming up interest in your book before it’s available. You can also use the cover in your pre-orders (which we’ll talk about in an upcoming post) while you’re fine-tuning your manuscript.

But how do you find a cover for your book? You could design a cover yourself using software, but I wouldn’t advise this unless you are already a cover designer and/or have a lot of computer design experience. Book cover design, like editing in most cases, should be left to professionals. I know that these two services can be expensive, but they can also help your book(s) take off and keep readers reading your books (assuming you write engaging stories or helpful nonfiction).

So, most likely you’re not designing a book cover yourself. You may want to find a professional book cover designer. Just like when you searched for editors, the first place you may want to start is with recommendations from friends and other authors. You could also ask for recommendations from book/author groups on Facebook and other social media sites. You could also do internet searches for cover designers. Make a list of cover designers that you like; look at their portfolios on their websites and compare their prices with other designers. Prices can range from under a hundred dollars up to thousands of dollars.

Some writers might think they give the synopsis of their story to a cover designer and then the designer does all the work, but often you will need to give the designer an idea of what you want so you two aren’t going back and forth with drafts of your cover. This is a good place to say that you should have some idea of what you want your cover to look like.

There are basically two ways you can go about this. Either you’ve already got a good idea of the image(s) or artwork you want on your cover, perhaps even something resembling a scene in your book, or you’ve researched the genre of your book and you want to make your cover similar to other books in your genre, or your genre niche.

We’ll start with the first one. Having a picture in your mind right away can make things a lot easier when it comes to cover design, but it still may not be a bad idea to research other books in your genre or genre niche. This doesn’t mean that you’re directly copying other covers (don’t do that), but you’re just trying to make your book instantly recognizable as a book in that particular genre. Experts say most readers browsing for a book give the cover and title a second or two of attention before moving on to the next one, so you have a very short time to grab a reader’s attention. If the cover looks amateurish or confusing or doesn’t seem to fit the genre, then they may pass on it and look at the next books – even if this is a subconscious choice on their part.

Back to the idea you have for the cover of your novel or nonfiction book. Does your cover idea speak to the genre you’re writing in? Would a reader know what kind of book yours is if there was no title on it? It’s important, because many readers shop by genre. And if the cover and title are intriguing enough for them to stop and check out your book, they may move on to the description (which we’ll discuss in an upcoming post). It’s great to have an idea you’re in love with, but if it doesn’t fit the genre or if it could be confusing to the reader, then you may want to change the idea or do more research on covers in your genre.

For some of my books (like Ancient Enemy) the image for the cover came to me immediately, and other covers were a struggle. But when you contact a cover designer, they’re going to want a description of what you want on the cover, and this is where researching covers in your genre will really help.

Another option is premade covers. A lot of cover designers have premade covers for sale for a lot less money. And there are websites that sell premade covers for reasonable prices like SelfPubBookCovers.com and TheBookCoverDesigner.com, to mention a few. You’ll have to look through a lot of covers to find a few you might be interested in, but I’ve found some really good images for some of my covers on these two sites. About half of my covers were made by cover designers and the other half were from premade covers.

But even if I’m looking through premade covers on those websites, I still have a fairly good idea of what I want on the cover of my book. For instance, when I was writing Devil’s Island, I knew I wanted an image of a small tropical island in the middle of the ocean, but I wanted it to be at night, dark and foreboding. I saw the cover image on a website of premade covers and I purchased it immediately because it was exactly what I wanted. I bought software to do the lettering and fonts, so I did the lettering myself. The cover for Sightings was an impulse buy. I saw the cover and bought it immediately. I purchased just the art, tweaked the lighting to make it brighter and more blue, then I did the lettering myself.

One of the problems with premade covers is that you may take a long time looking for the exact image you want, or you may want something more uncommon. This may be the time to turn to a designer. It may be more expensive to use a professional designer, but I recommend going with a professional designer who has a track record of designing book covers.

How do you come up with an idea for your cover? You could jot down some ideas as you’re writing or re-reading/editing your manuscript. You could have others read your manuscript and give you some suggestions. And of course, you could look at other book covers in your genre to give you some inspiration.

One good thing about professionally designed book covers and premade covers is that you don’t have to buy software to create your covers. Your designer will do all of the design work for you after you two agree on what you want, or when it comes to premade covers, usually the designer will add your title and other metadata to the cover.

In closing, I recommend a professional-looking cover from either a designer or a premade cover from a reputable website. Also, keep in mind that your cover image should be clear when seen at a thumbnail size. Many readers may first see your cover at that size on Amazon or in a promotional email on their phone, so make sure the image and title can be seen clearly at a smaller size.

Hope this helps someone out there.

Until next time . . .




So you’ve had your manuscript edited and/or had a team (or even just one or two) beta readers read your manuscript (you can go back to the prior posts where we discussed all of these things). And now you’re ready to hit the publish button.

But maybe not yet. I would suggest at least one more read-through. Of course you would have already made the changes your editor suggested, and any changes that your beta readers suggested. You would have fixed all of the typos and grammar errors. But even after all of that’s done, I still believe it’s important to give your manuscript at least one last read-through. You may catch that one last typo that others missed, or you may want to change a word here or there, or make a sentence clearer, or catch a lapse in the continuity of the story.

For me, after years as a professional writer, I get a certain feeling when I think my manuscript is finally ready to be published. Do I think it’s perfect or even complete? No. Never. I’m never satisfied with my books. Even to this day I don’t think my books are as good as they could be, and I have to resist the urge to go back and tinker with all of them. It’s like an artist who is finished with a painting, but the artist keeps “touching up” the work, adding a little paint here or there. You could keep doing that forever if you let yourself. At some point you need to just let the work go, set it free and send it out into the world. I believe most writers and artists never think their work is perfect, but often we are too critical of our own work. We may be satisfied that it’s the best we can do, but we may not ever be truly happy with it. I’ve learned through the years that you can drive yourself crazy tinkering with your manuscript over the last few reads. Sometimes you may find yourself changing things just to change things, and it may get to a point where you’re not making the story necessarily better, but just different. And there’s the danger of getting too far away from the original version and passion you had for the story, the passion that made you want to write it in the first place.

So definitely give the manuscript a final read-through, or even two or three read-throughs if you think it needs it. But if you get to a point where you’re just picking at it, or you’re just nervous to publish it, paralyzing yourself with analysis, then just take the plunge and send it in or hit the publish button.

One trick I’ve heard of (I learned this from screenwriting books) is to read your manuscript aloud during one of your final read-throughs. And if you’re not going to read the entire manuscript aloud, maybe you should at least read the dialogue to see if it sounds natural. Sometimes you can spot typos easier if you read aloud because chances are you read slower out loud than you do in your head. Also, you can hear the rhythm of the sentences. Sometimes something that sounds good in your head may not sound as great out loud and could need some changes. And don’t forget, you may want to create an audio book from your novel or book, and reading it aloud could be a preview of what it’s going to sound like.

So give your manuscript that one last read-through to make sure it’s as good as you can get it, then take the plunge and get it out there.

Now that your manuscript is finally ready to be published, we’ll talk about other things you’re going to need to get done in upcoming posts including: selecting a cover for your book, formatting your books, writing the description, etc. I hope you’ll stick around for those posts. And please feel free to comment on any of these posts – I would love to hear from you.

I hope this helps someone out there.

Until next time . . .



What are beta readers? Beta readers are one or more people willing to read your manuscript before publication. If you’re lucky enough to have at least a few beta readers, they can provide a valuable service for you. Usually beta readers provide this service for free, but some may charge a small fee.

In the previous post we talked about editing and finding editors. If you have an editor, is it still important to have beta readers? That’s up to you, but I would say yes. The more eyes on your manuscript the better. One person may find a typo that others, even yourself, have missed. I’ve read some of my manuscripts numerous times and still missed typos that others have caught. Sometimes when you’ve read the same manuscript over and over, you kind of train your brain to overlook some mistakes.

Is that all beta readers do, read your book to find typos? A lot of times, yes. But many may offer their opinion of your story that you’ve sent to them. If you’re lucky, you might find a beta reader who highlights those mistakes that he or she has found, including punctuation mistakes, grammar errors, misspellings, flaws in logic, inconsistencies, etc. You don’t have to take every suggestion a beta reader offers you, but it doesn’t hurt to hear other opinions before you publish your story. Even Hollywood often uses focus groups to comment on an upcoming film, and sometimes producers will go back and alter a movie’s ending if the focus groups didn’t like it. So you could think of your beta readers as your own focus group.

How many beta readers should you have? Any amount is good. Even one or two can be hard to find, and hard to keep. Ideally, I would say it’s good to have five or more so you can get various opinions and more eyes to spot typos and mistakes. With various opinions, you can decide if you want to make any changes to your story. If one out of five beta readers doesn’t like your ending or a certain character, but the other four do, then maybe you could chalk that up to one person’s opinion. But if four out of five don’t like something, then you may want to pay attention to that. But whatever their opinions are, always be gracious and grateful when beta readers take the time to read your book and give you their thoughts on it – they are doing you a great service.

How many beta readers are too many? That’s hard to say. It can be difficult to get even a few beta readers to read your book, but having too many might be a good problem to have. But it could also get tough juggling that many emails and waiting for some of the beta readers to finish reading your book so you can publish it. Also, some beta readers may only stay with you for a book or two, and then move on for one reason or another – so having more can help when some leave.

What kind of reaction are you looking for from beta readers? Usually they kind of proofread your manuscript, and some may give you their thoughts on your story. Some beta readers may go more in depth than others. If you’re looking for specific reactions, you may want to send along a questionnaire for them to fill out, letting them know that the questionnaire is not mandatory and to only fill out what they’re comfortable with. If you do send out a questionnaire, you could ask things like: What did you think of the ending? What did you think of the pace of the story? Was the book too long or too short? Were there any confusing parts of the story, places where you had to re-read to get a better understanding? Did you like the main characters? And on and on.

How long should it take for a beta reader to read your book? A few weeks to a month is usually a pretty reasonable time frame. If the reader goes beyond four weeks, you may want to send them a gentle reminder. Should you impose some kind of time limit? I wouldn’t. And if a beta reader goes beyond a month, and you’ve decided to publish anyway, then you should still be gracious when they send you their opinion of your book – they still took the time to read it.

What stage should your manuscript be in when you send it to your beta readers? It should be as close to the finished product as possible. It’s not fair to send your beta readers a first draft full of typos and work that needs a lot of editing. Always remember that your beta readers are taking time out of their daily life to do you a huge favor by reading your book and giving their opinion of it. It’s rude to send them a first or second draft that is full of typos or is in need of major rewriting. If you want an opinion of your story before you write the first draft, then you could send your beta readers a treatment or synopsis of your story (but I warn you that a synopsis is dry reading and you may get opinions that vary widely from an actual novel or a book).

Where do you find beta readers? First ask your family and friends, especially if you know another writer or an expert in English grammar. You could ask your spouse or partner, your siblings, your parents or children, and any other family members. You could also ask friends and coworkers. You could also post on social media sites that you’re looking for beta readers.

Should beta readers leave reviews for your books? That’s totally up to them, but after they’ve done you a huge favor of reading and commenting about your book, I don’t think it would be too polite to bombard them with pleas for reviews, unless it’s something you worked out with each other up front. Just remember, if you pay a beta reader something, even if it’s just a free copy of your book, some retailers may look unfavorably on that person leaving a review, feeling that you “paid” for a good review. To avoid any trouble, you may want to get all of that worked out upfront.

How do you thank a beta reader? As I said before, always be gracious and grateful. Some beta readers may ask for a small fee upfront or a free book. You could thank them by sending them a signed print copy or gift them (or someone else they know) a free e-copy of your book. You could also thank them in the acknowledgements of your books; just make sure you get their permission first to use their name. Maybe people might only want their first names used.

So, there you have it. I would consider beta readers as important to your team as an editor, cover designer, and formatter (if you use one).

Hope that helps someone out there.

Until next time . . .