Every writer needs feedback prior to publication. This is particularly true for new writers.
Before the pitch, before the query, before the post, and especially before hitting publish, a new writer needs a beta reader.
Matchmaking applications and algorithms are a staple of online life. Job seekers are matched to opportunities, potential boyfriends and girlfriends are put together, and even potential bone marrow donors and their genetically unrelated recipients are matched.
But new writers don’t have a means of finding their ideal beta reader matches. Instead, they turn to friends and family, who might be outside of a target demographic, or busy, or too polite, or just plain uninterested. This new matching application would put new writers and beta readers together, based upon data points like demographics (age, gender, native language), genres of interest (e. g. science fiction, horror, romance, etc.), specific reading interests or subgenres (e. g. LGBTQ stories, dystopian tales, sweet romance), particular needs (e. g. spelling, grammar, word choice, punctuation, continuity checks, research verification, readability, saleability), and availability.
Amateur writers looking to turn professional are the main targeted customers for this service. In addition, amateur writers looking to improve and take their work to the next level are a secondary market. A staggered price structure could be used, whereby works slated for querying and self-publication would be priced at a higher level than works intended for free publication such as on Wattpad or Amazon WriteOn.
To start, beta readers would be able to join for free. At some point, if the interest was sufficient, beta reading could be used to offset the costs of having a piece edited and reviewed.
A noncontrolling percentage of the ownership interests would be sold to smaller publishing houses as a means of helping them to identify, groom, and eventually market new talent.
The Future of this Industry
Large publishing houses are able to offer substantial advances to celebrities. But for independent authors who are not yet represented by agents, their only avenue to publication is the slush pile. If smaller publishers could be assured of initial vetting and better quality, and new writers could be assured of honest and helpful evaluations of their work, then the process would be improved over all.
Smaller publishers are looking for the next JK Rowling or EL James. New writers are looking to become published, either by a reputable house or via self-publishing. It is in both groups’ best interests for new works to attract the attention of reviewers and the press, but for the quality of the pieces and not for continuity errors, typos, misspellings, trite and tired plots, Mary Sue characters, and other negatives. The path to improvement leads directly through well-matched beta readers.