I’ve had, probably moderate success with beta-readers. I’ve generally found them somewhat haphazardly on Reddit.
Warning: Reddit will Eat your Life
In between being consumed, try and find some beta-readers, skulking around the writing subreddits. I did a trade off with this one woman who is great. We bullshit a fair amount, commiserate, etc. She’s more my writing buddy than anything, and she always has great feedback.
I’ve gotten beta-reads from various writing groups on Reddit. There’s a fair amount of shifting around, fracturing, and when that happens there’s a lot of energy, and if you have stuff ready to rock and roll, you can get critiques. Brief note on critiques: if you put a link to an entire work in a public forum, it is considered published. If you send people the link privately, post it on a private subreddit, or post only a portion, it’s not considered published.
More people have offered to read for me than gotten back to me, which is the way it goes to a certain extent. I don’t really harass people too much either. I would probably get more feedback if I did.
My Thoughts on Being a Beta-Reader
I like it when people communicate with me, about what they want, what they think about my comments, what they’re finding useful. Pat me on the head, and I’ll do more work for you. If I get almost no response, I’ll probably get bored with a longer piece (part of the reason why I don’t harass people about reading my stuff, I don’t always finish what I say I will). It’s work, trying to do a close reading, and people work better with encouragement.
Also, try and get me the file in a format I like. Sometimes people post stuff from their blogs, and there’s a very basic problem of readability. Like, the text is tiny or the contrast is brutal.
Calibre is an easy way to make files for ereaders. I love Google Docs for sharing stuff. You can enable comments, or even allow people to edit.
I hope you found this helpful, and I’ll probably revisit this topic at some point.