I was wondering if paying for beta-readers is a thing. I have found it very difficult to find free beta-readers who were willing to read Christian books, my genre, and to read them objectively while still using Tracked Changes in Microsoft Word for editing. I have since went to UpWork and hired two beta-readers, or professional proofreaders, and I have had great success in not only validating my writing but fixing some things that I may have overlooked during my own editing sessions. Is this normal?
It's definitely never necessary to pay money for anything having to do with your own book. Readers, agents, etc. are all available for free, and publishers have their own in-house editors. I wouldn't personally be able to trust that a beta reader I paid was actually giving me objective feedback, because they want me to work with them again, right? so if the objective response my work needs ends up being more critique than I thought, maybe I'll get upset and never work with them again, and so they avoid being honest so they get more of my money with future projects. That said, my "free" beta readers don't use tracked changes, because beta reading in my experience isn't that level of editing. I'm sure there are exceptions, but for me, beta readers haven't really been there for line-edits. They're overall developmental edits that I get over lunch dates or phone calls with my beta readers after the fact, or they've written me a sort of editorial letter with overall suggestions. I generally find them by trading my manuscript with someone else objective (so not being paid, not a friend or family member) who wants my objective eyes on their own work.