Compiling for Beta Readers

Having reached the FInis point on the WIP, I need to send out reading copies so my friends can tell me where I suck and why. The usual suspects are all pros, and so get .docx manuscripts via email. But this time there are some civilians in the mix, some of them decidedly un-digital.

Any thoughts on a format meant for easy reading, and easy on trees and postage? I was thinking maybe a traditional paperback-novel-looking printout, one-side only, which should be about half the pages of a traditional double-spaced manuscript. Which, to most people, doesn’t look like a book at all.

I used to produce stuff for my students in China by using 12pt Adobe Garamond Pro, adjusting the margins for recto-verso, and then printing two to a landscape page from NWP. It came out on the page as roughly 10pt and perfectly readable.

In your case you could of course print to PDF. And, though I’m not a Word user—unless under duress, which has happened!—I’m sure you could do the same in that, or if you needed to print to paper, you should be able to print two sided, saving even more paper.



Thanks, Mark. I’ve tried double-sided in the past, and readers found it irritating unless it was presented as bound galleys, which isn’t cost-effective here. Two-across ten-point would slim things down nicely, I think, and be easy enough to produce after export to Apple Pages.

The Pros will all read in Word (or some derivation thereof)–we live and die by marginal comments, which Pages does deftly with both the Windows and Mac versions of Word.

For the digitally connected, give them an ebook format: it makes the sense of reading a book far more real than having to wade through a stack of papers. Better to read a book than something that looks like a report: elicits a more honest and meaningful and realistic response, I think.

Slàinte mhòr.

Thanks. I was considering making an e-book for the digital civilians and giving the pros the .docx files they live by. Maybe I’ll try printing out an e-book for the luddites, and see how it looks.

I create an ePub, MOBI, and smaller format PDF, then distribute them to beta readers via

You may be underestimating the number of readers who prefer to read on an eReader. Unless they are doing proofreading for typos, they don’t need to communicate sentence-level fixes to you.