The Good Reader

Reader reports for writers.

The Good Reader logoAs a working author, I know it’s hard to get feedback that’s constructive, independent and timely. That’s why I became The Good Reader.

I’ll read opening chapters at any stage of the writing process, provide an alpha read of your first draft or a beta read of your final draft. My reports are based on the simple ABCD formula I use with my beta readers: what did I find Awesome, Boring or Confusing, and what Didn’t I believe?

A report on the strengths and weaknesses of your opening chapters. I will read the outline or synopsis of your novel, if you have one at this stage. Finally, I will advise how you can to move forward with confidence to a complete first draft.

Price: from €150

Alpha reading is the first time you let anyone else take a cold look at your full manuscript. This can be a scary moment for any author, so my goal is to give you honest and constructive feedback.

In addition to the ABCDs, I will summarize strengths and weaknesses in your structure, style, grammar, or use of language. Finally, I will suggest the next steps towards revising your story and producing a final draft ready for beta readers.

Price: from €200

The beta read is a cold look at your final draft before you self-publish or begin pitching to agents and publishers.

If you’re happy with your novel after my report, the next people to read your work will be online reviewers, agents or publishers — and I don’t know which are more frightening.

You can treat the Beta Report as an extremely detailed review, with a star-rating and my verdict on whether it’s ready for the next step.
The work must be something that I haven’t seen in full before.

Price: from €400

Will I read your manuscript?

stock photo bearded man reading book with coffee

I focus on the genres I love – adult sci-fi, fantasy, and horror – giving a reader’s view of your work and a writer’s view of where the next stage might be. Every novel is a journey, and I’ll suggest where to go next, before you put your work in front of paying readers or the merciless eyes of agents.

I will consider other genres of fiction and non-fiction. Complete the enquiry form and I’ll tell you whether it’s suitable for me. I don’t read children’s fiction, young adult, romance, women’s and LGBTQ fiction, or erotica. I am not a sensitivity reader, although I will note sensitivity issues if I find them.

Writers’ groups have given me more than five years of experience critiquing work across a range of genres and at different stages of the writing process. I have a Master’s in Creative Writing from St Mary’s University, Twickenham, and I’ve spent more than 20 years writing and editing as a journalist in print and online.

Let’s make your novel 100% awesome.

What are the ABCDs?

Reader reports are about capturing the experience your readers will have when they open your novel.

Smiling Face with Heart-EyesWhat are the most Awesome parts of your novel? What excited me and made me want to keep reading?

Yawning Face emojiWhich parts were Boring? It’s hard to accept, but sometimes we get it wrong. These parts turned me off or made me want to stop reading. You might need to rewrite them, approach them differently, or cut them to tighten up your story.

Face with Spiral EyesWhat Confused me about your story? Who did that? How did they get there? Authors know our books so well that we rarely see these flaws, but readers can get lost in our worlds or the machinations of our characters.

Face with MonocleWhat Didn’t I believe? That would never happen! Good writing creates ‘a continual waking dream’1If you know who said this, do let me know! that readers want to believe in. If your reader falls out of the story, they might not want to climb back in.

Multi award-winning author Mary Robinette Kowal created the ABCDs for her beta readers. It saved them from facing dozens of questions that should have been answered in development edits and other steps of the writing process.

For the writer, this system helps to capture feedback that they will only experience when readers post reviews.


I’ll ask my family and friends to read my book. What’s wrong with that?

Family and friends are the first stop when most writers look for feedback at an early stage. Stephen King’s wife is famously his first reader, but she’s also an experienced writer. If you have someone like that, you should definitely recruit them!

For most of us, it’s a struggle to get our friends and family to finish our stories. They often don’t want to hurt your feelings, or they don’t know your genre well enough to offer useful feedback.

My writing group buddies give me great feedback. Why not ask them?

Writing groups are a great way to share chapter-by-chapter critiques, and I wouldn’t do without my fellow writers. For reader reports, it’s better to have a fresh set of eyes; if your writing group has seen most of your novel, your twists and turns won’t surprise them.

Your writing group are busy people too. Sometimes it’s too much to ask members of your writing group to set aside extra time for critiquing an entire novel.

How should I format my work for a Reader Report?

For manuscripts, it’s not complicated: 12-point text (preferably Times New Roman/Garamond/Bookerly/Helvetica/Arial) with double-spacing between lines. Make sure the first line of each paragraph is indented. Your name, email and the title of your work should be in the header of each page, with a page number in the footer.

Novice writers often like to use special fonts to give their work character, or to express their characters’ personalities. I recommend against this, because agents and publishers hate reading quirky fonts, and ebook readers like the Kindle allow your readers to choose a font which suits them. The sooner you kill the urge to use crazy fonts, the easier you’ll find it when dealing with agents, publishers and ebook readers.

Ebooks (in ePub) and print-ready PDFs have more freedom, but you should research best practice. Use industry-standard software like Vellum or Adobe InDesign, and consult a professional book designer if you’re not sure what you’re doing.

Are Reader Reports the same as Development Edits or Structural Edits?

No. Developmental and structural editors will ask about your goals as an author and your prospective audience. They will delve deep into your story and advise on fundamental changes that may improve anything from your characters to the progress of your story.

They’re also a lot more expensive than a reader report: development editing for a 100,000 word novel will cost upwards of €1,500.

I recommend working with a development editor if you’re at the opening chapters or first draft stage. If you’ve got to the beta stage without talking to an editor — congratulations, but I will tell you if I believe you need to go back to that stage of the process.

Do you provide editing services like line and copy edits or proofreading?

No. I hope you will have read through your opening chapters and first draft and corrected them well enough for me to read. I will advise on how much editing you will need to reach the beta reading stage.

For beta reading reports, I expect your manuscript to be ready to meet readers in the wild.

If you’re self-publishing, it’s an excellent idea to work with a line or copy editor and a proofreader before you publish. You can also use commercially available tools like ProWritingAid to bring your work to a very high standard.

If you’re submitting to agents and publishers, I recommend using ProWritingAid as a minimum step. There’s no better way to guarantee rejection or 1-star reviews than making your submission difficult to read!

How many reader reports should I get?

For Opening Chapters or an Alpha Report, one good reader with constructive feedback is often enough. You don’t want to be overwhelmed with notes and you’ve probably got some changes in mind already. After all, it’s only your first draft.

Beta readers should sample a range of people reading in your genre. I’d recommend two rounds of beta reading, with four to six readers each time. Make changes between rounds and hopefully the second round will have nothing but positive feedback!

That sounds expensive and time-consuming!

Agents, publishers and readers have high standards. If you skimp on beta readers, you may regret it when your reviews arrive or the rejections pile up. I aim to make my feedback comprehensive enough to fill the role of three or four regular readers, but reading novels is a time-consuming process.

What happens after I receive your report?

Read my feedback and then read through your opening chapters or complete manuscript again. If you’d like to discuss the report, my service includes feedback via email or a Zoom consultation.

Can I pay in US Dollars or UK Pounds?

I can accept payments in a variety of currencies, but exchange rates fluctuate and transaction fees vary depending on how you pay. Non-Euro prices will be calculated at final checkout based on current exchange rates and international transaction fees.

Are you sponsored by ProWritingAid?

No, but I am open to offers.