Alpha? Beta? ARC? Are these writing terms or the first stop on Greek row? Okay, maybe I should leave the jokes to the professionals, but when I first started writing these terms were a little confusing to me. I knew they were all types of book readers, I just wasn’t sure how they worked or when to use them!
Luckily, I found some amazing writing friends in our group to explain them, and now I will do the same for you. Here we go!
Alpha Readers are the first readers of your story. They can help during the developmental stages, tell you pieces that don’t make sense, or point out inconsistencies. These readers are often friends or part of peer writing groups. They expect your story to be in its rawest form.
As a writer, Alpha Readers are great when you need advice on character development or plot holes. Alpha Readers should approach your work as a writer-reader, someone who has experience on both sides of the book.
Authors will often send out their manuscripts to Beta Readers once completing at least one round of critical edits. Beta Readers are basically your test audience. They can leave comments about characters or plot points that they love, hate, or would love to see changed up.
Beta Readers should approach your manuscript as a run-of-the-mill readers. They don’t need to be writers but should at least enjoy reading the same genre as your book. It also helps to have a questionnaire for your Beta Readers so they understand the expectations.
Looking for more info on Beta Reader roles and where to find them? We got you covered here.
ARC (Advanced Reader Copies) Readers are the end of the line before your book hits the shelves. After you finish editing and formatting your Alpha and Beta feedback, authors send ARCs to more readers for one final look.
This version of your story should be close to perfect; you’re not looking for your ARC Reader to provide more edits. The goal of ARCs is to start building a following for your story. You hope your ARC Readers love your book enough to leave a review that will help promote your story. You can not require these readers to do so, but you can remind them to leave a review if they’d like.
I hope this helps clear up the different readers for the different stages of your book.
About the Writer: Emmy Seal is a romantic comedy author. Living in Michigan with her husband and two kids, and dozens of plant babies. In her free time, she enjoys bike riding, hiking, and reading. Check out Emmy on Instagram for more.