Gather better feedback,
Write a better book.

Help This Book is modern beta reading for authoring nonfiction that works. The tool comes bundled with our nonfiction authors' community, via Useful Books.

How it helps your book

1. More and better reader feedback

Your manuscript is presented to readers as a work-in-progress that wants and needs their help, and not as a flawless, finished piece. Instead of burdening readers with figuring out what to say into a blank comment box, they are nudged toward the big-picture, high-impact feedback via four quick reactions: useful, confusing, slow, and loved it.

Taken together, this simplifies the reader's task, helps them to help you, and shows them that it really does help and you really do want to hear it.

fig 1 —
reader view with
reaction bar

2. Find and fix the book-killing blunders

Do you know where your readers become bored, start to skim, skip ahead, and abandon? You ought to! Do you know which section is most useful? Most confusing? Do they find your opening anecdote to be charming? Or… not?

Use reactions and reader analytics to figure out which chapters are pulling your readers in, and which are pushing them away. With better data, you can spot the next book-killing issue and direct your editing where it matters most.

fig 2 —
reactions by chapter

3. Simple process for import, formatting, and versioning

Continue writing with whichever tools you already prefer. Once ready for beta reading, enjoy instant import, with automated recognition of chapters, sections, images, and most text formatting. (See our formatting guide.)

Compared to beta reading with Google Docs, you'll get better feedback and an easier time managing it. Compared to export-and-email, you'll get instant visibility into how your readers are engaging with your manuscript, clean version management, and the preservation of your general sanity.

fig 3 —
import summary
with detected
chapters and formatting

Your work stays fully yours

We claim no rights to your work (apart from making it available on our site to your beta readers). We won't republish, excerpt, or do anything with your work unless you give explicit permission for us to do so. You can easily hide your live draft to prevent it from being visible to readers (or delete it altogether) whenever you'd like.

We claim the fewest permissions and collect minimum data.

You share access to only a only single Google Doc, not your whole Google Drive, and can revoke it any time. We don’t collect any sneaky marketing data and have no intention of ever doing so.

Your reader feedback stays safe.

Beyond a set of standard protections, we create daily backups of your manuscripts and reader feedback. Should our servers spontaneously combust, all but the most recent feedback will be quickly recoverable.

We are authors.

We built this tool to make our own books better, and it has. We use it nearly every day for the books we're writing now. We understand that nothing is more important than your relationship with your readers, and we will treat your readers with the same respect with which we treat our own.

Limitations, help, and docs

Help This Book is currently in beta and still contains some limitations and loose ends. Should anything go wrong, we're easy to reach and quick to react. But do be aware that you'll very likely encounter some frustrations and rough spots along the way.

Designed for single column e-reader layouts.

We follow the same constraints as most e-readers: single column, emphasis on the text, full-width images. If it works on a standard Kindle, then it should work in Help This Book. However, if your manuscript relies on complex layouts and fancy typography, you may prefer a different tool.

Your manuscript must be in Google Docs and cleanly formatted.

If you write in another tool, you will have to upload and convert your manuscript into a GDocs file before importing it. It also must be "cleanly" formatted, with proper styles for your titles, subtitles, lists, and so on. If you've maintained good styles while writing, this is a trivial task. However, if your manuscript is currently a bit of a mess, this may require some hours. (See formatting guide.)

Temporary import limitation: tables and footnotes.

While we do intend to fully support native tables and footnotes, they are not yet in place. (The temporary workaround is to duplicate important tables as inline images, and to convert footnotes into end-of-chapter notes.)

Your beta reading link is obscured, not secured.

Your manuscript lives at a single, customizable link that you can share as widely or as privately as you like: we don't push or promote your link to anybody, and search engines won't index it, so nobody will find your link until you share it. But once you do, excited readers might share it with other readers. For most authors, this trade-off is worthwhile for the reduced friction to readers, which leads to more feedback. (Plus, they enjoy the early evidence of a recommendation loop.) We do intend to add more nuanced privacy and permissions, but that's still some time away.