Launching your book: Could you benefit from a beta audience?

In the past I have talked about beta readers as a way to test my book. Today I came across an article about an author who is publishing his book to a beta audience of 1,000 people before he even makes his work available to the public. While this size sample audience is likely too large for most self-published authors, it does raise an interesting idea.

By releasing a book to a smaller audience, there is an opportunity to build a buzz and a collection of ready-reviews before your book is available for purchase. Admittedly, I am more likely to buy a book with at least some reviews (even mediocre) than one with none at all. Likewise, it provides more opportunity for refinement as readers provide input before the book hits Amazon.

Now, I know many authors question the validity of seeking so many different opinions, but perhaps this method of a larger beta audience (be it 1,000 or 100 or 10) provides the opportunity for a consensus to form. While the opinion of one may not be extremely useful, the overlapped opinions of many start to hold more value, particularly if the audience is picked intentionally. In the article, the author seeks readers in his academic community, not just any old volunteer.

I am curious of your thoughts– do you see advantages to a larger beta audience? Is there some secret to successful marketing in this approach?

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4 thoughts on “Launching your book: Could you benefit from a beta audience?

  1. jeffo says:

    The larger the test audience, in theory, the more likely you are to get that consistency of feedback. I think the approach taken by the person in the article is better for a work of non-fiction; I’m not sure I’d try it for a novel. There also comes a point where it feels too much like pandering. Of course, I’m a stick-in-the-mud.

  2. kingmidget says:

    Here’s my question … how do you find a beta audience of that size? And then have them read the book in a relatively timely fashion to get moving. I also wonder if it’s really a beta audience (which I view as the group of people who are going to give you, the author, feedback) versus as you describe it, a way to generate buzz about the book. In some respect Goodreads giveaways are kind of like that. You don’t necessarily have the whole group of hundreds or thousands of people who sign up for the giveaway end up getting a free copy, but it does generate buzz.
    I think, by the way, if I were to go with a true beta audience of 1,000 I would be so stymied by the number and variety of comments I’d end up not changing a thing.

    • oliviaobryon says:

      I agree, 1,000 is too many for a novel, just made me think about how I started with 7 readers and am grateful to add an extra 5… I’m learning from more eyes and it will be nice to be able to ask 12 people to review my book as soon as it is available, instead of just a few. That’s where the “buzz” comes in. Nice to share with the world and already have something up, but I think you’re right, it can be done through avenues like Goodreads as well.

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