Survey for my Beta Readers

For my 3rd Draft Beta Reading of Power of the Mages, I decided to include a survey to ensure the commenters addressed items in which I am particularly interested. Because they are doing this on a strictly volunteer basis, it was important to me to make the survey easy for them to fill out. To that end, even though essay answers would probably be more revealing, I made the questions answerable by numeric ratings, though I did instruct them to feel free to elaborate.

The first question is the most important. My marketing strategy is based on having a product that is so good most readers will recommend it to others, so I needed to know if the beta reader thinks the book is worth recommending.

Question 1: Would you recommend this book to others? Choose an answer from the following list:

a. Absolutely. I loved it and will proclaim its awesomeness from the rooftops.
b. Probably. I liked it and will tell friends about it if I think they’ll enjoy the content/story.
c. Maybe. It was okay, but nothing to write home about. If one of my friends is a hardcore fantasy fan, I’ll tell him about it.
d. Unlikely. It just wasn’t that good.
e. No. Your writing sucks.

I consider myself an author who writes character driven stories. Thus, it’s important to me to learn how my readers feel about my characters. Note that the reader loving or hating a character doesn’t matter to me as much as them feeling something strongly. Even if I want them to love the protagonist, I’d accept a “1” as being a good thing while feeling that a 5 or 6 is a failure.

Question 2: Please rank the likeability of the following characters on a scale of 1 to 10. 1 means you hate that character. 10 means you love that character. 5.5 means you are completely apathetic about, or can’t really remember, the character.

I then listed each of the 7 major characters, the antagonist, and 4 minor characters.

For my final two questions, I wanted to find out how the readers felt about certain character and story arcs, both if they liked the story line in general and if they felt I depicted it consistently.

Question 3: On a scale of 1 to 10, please rank the following story and character arcs in regards to how much you enjoyed them. 1 means you hated the story/character arc. 10 means you loved the story/character arc. 5.5 means you are completely apathetic about, or can’t really remember, the character/story arc.

I listed the major character arcs, plots, and conflicts between characters — 17 in all.

Question 4: On a scale of 1 to 10, please rank the following story and character arcs in regards to how consistently you feel they were represented in the book. 1 means it was confusing and all over the map. 10 means it flowed logically from beginning to end. 5.5 means you really didn’t notice that particular story element.

I listed the same items as for Question 3.

Once I get the results back, I’ll compile them and do a post about the results.

Have any of you done anything like this? How’d it go? Are there other questions I should have asked?

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7 thoughts on “Survey for my Beta Readers

  1. An excellent idea 🙂 I’d definitely be interested to know how it went. I’ve not used beta readers, but then I’ve only published some short stories so far. I’m not entirely sure whether I would do so, either, but that’s just a personal thing. I can’t think of any additional questions, but then that would depend on what feedback you’re looking for 😉

    • Steve,

      I didn’t quite understand your comment, “I’m not entirely sure whether I would do so, either.” Did you mean you wouldn’t use beta readers or wouldn’t use a survey?

      Thanks.

      Brian

      • Sorry Brian, I should have been clearer. I’m not sure I’d use beta readers – if I did, the survey idea would certainly be worth considering.

        Cheers,
        Steve

      • Steve,

        The purpose of beta readers is to catch mistakes before you send it to others. Your editor can only send so much time on your piece, so, if you catch as much as possible before sending it to him, you’ll get more in depth comments on underlying issues rather than surface stuff. And you really don’t want the public catching stuff that should have picked up in the editing stages. Overall, I can’t imagine sending out anything without having a few trusted beta readers checking it first. I’m simply too close to the writing to catch everything.

        Thanks.

        Brian

      • I get the purpose of beta readers, but I check and recheck so often myself (I don’t even trust spell check LOL) that I catch things very early on. The only time I’ve had something with errors slip through was when somebody tried to help and submitted an ebook to Smashwords while I was ill and unable to do so. Sadly, I hadn’t made my final check before that happened.

        Cheers,
        Steve

      • Steve,

        I get you, but it’s not just factual errors; it’s perceptions. It’s hard to know exactly how others will interpret your words. Regardless of how careful you are, a few sentences that can be interpreted multiple ways are enough to disengage a reader if they choose the wrong path.

        I suggest trying the beta reading process on one of your stories and seeing if it’s a benefit.

        Thanks.

        Brian

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