I've sent Hot Mess, my current WIP out to Beta readers across the world. I have two that I consistently get great feedback from, as well as my critique group. The rest are from Goodreads. I'm of the opinion that the more sets of eyes that see the story and give feedback on it, the better it ends up being.
My first foray into Beta readers was a disaster. I gave my first novel, Hunkalicious, to eight members of my family and friends. My mom was the only one who responded. Turns out, Hunkalicious was awful, and they probably couldn't get through it, and didn't have the heart to tell me. I ended up cutting 75% of it, and calling it Neighborly Complications.
Based on that experience, I realized that everyone was right: friends and family don't need to beta.
But I still needed some.
I was talking online with an old school friend of mine, Jen, and discovered that she'd been writing, too. She offered to beta Dream On for me. And she was awesome.
Cool. So I had another beta.
Jen, and one girl I had met online were now my beta readers, and they had completely dichotomous views on what I should do to improve my story. I chose to go with Jennifer, because I actually knew her, her education level, and trusted her. I think that was a good choice, because the other lady quit speaking to me, for reasons that are completely unknown to me.
I published my first three stories and started looking for reviewers, to get some stars on my Goodreads and Amazon profiles. This is how I met my next beta.
Paris offered to review Chef's Delight, and when she read it, she found so many issues with it, that I was quite frankly embarrassed, once she brought them to my attention. The beauty of digital publishing? I immediately took Chef's Delight off sale, and hurriedly revised it. So, Paris agreed to be a beta reader as well.
Back up to two beta readers. And my mom.
I had been told that I needed at least five beta readers. I joined a critique group online, and I am so totally lucky it's a good one. There are four other writers, and we all post our WIPs up and critique and encourage each other. One is really great about characterization and plot development, two are awesome with finding redundant phrases and words, and the other is my own little cheerleader, while still pointing out flaws in characters. Those ladies are godsends to me. I love each and every one of them.
So now, I have six.
But wait, I need more!
I don't know why, maybe it's an insecurity thing, but I just want to make sure that I've done everything possible to have a quality product to publish.
So I go to the Goodreads forums, and start a couple of threads looking for beta readers. These threads are iffy, at best. I'll send out fifteen copies of my WIP. I'll get back four, "This is great! Don't change a thing!" I'll get one or two where the reader tries to correct grammar, comma usage, etc...The rest, I can only assume hate it, because I never hear anything back from them. Ever.
I know I have six great betas. The rest are icing on the cupcake, so to speak. This is the final push before the last round of revisions. Once the betas finish, and I decide whether or not to implement their suggestions (some I will, some I won't), then I give the final one or two more read throughs and send it off to Catherine, my editor.
This is by far the most nerve-wracking part of the writing process, for me. Getting other's feedback on my WIP. This is where I find out if my ideas are good (of course they are, but everyone needs some validation), and if I have gotten them on paper/computer in a manner that tells an entertaining story. Because that's my goal: to entertain. Right?