Asking such a question has always been something that I needed to ask as a beta. Because I got some authors who were trying their luck with me, often trying to get me to read their book for free. And I often told them that I charged for it?
Why? Because what I do as a beta is way above the normal for most. I write a thorough analysis of a book, not just a review. I go into the strengths and weaknesses of the story and give suggestions to improve them. Those things take hours, it also takes me a long time just to read the book to that extent and objectively analyse it.
I was doing much more than a normal beta. I often went into what was wrong with the story, I critiqued it. And thus why I started charging. This took hours off my weeks, meaning that I had to dedicate time to it as compared to simply reading a book. I could do that in a day and write a sarcastic review or in a day and gush all about it. The same cannot be applied to what I do when I beta read.
And yet, I had so many try to get me to read it for free. And the one time I accepted I regretted the decision. He never got back to me, perhaps thinking that I enjoyed his book that I will not care that I simply bended my principles just that one time.
And well, he never even thanked me for the feedback I gave him. Another time was a guy who sent me two manuscripts and got away with it for free. I was stunned and angry at what happened. But I was new so I didn’t dare to ask any form of payment. I got better and often asked for payment upfront.
I offered so much more than normal unpaid beta, there are those who this for free. But for me it eats up my time when I could spend it doing other things. I take pride in it and analyse just what was wrong with the story. And yet, I was being ripped off.
Sometimes I wonder should I just have went back to beta reading for free. But then I get a client who willingly paid or thought that it was way too little for the amount of work I was doing.
And then I remember that it wasn’t too bad. And that sure I could go back to reading for free but then I was simply attracting more of the kind who cheapened the amount of work I did. Either by pretending that it was for a paid service or simply trying to get away by citing that I will credit you in the acknowledgements. (Only one of them did, it was the first author I worked with.)
And by offering a paid beta I was crediting myself for the effort and amount of work I put into the story. And having a chance to filter out the authors who were simply looking for someone to tell them whether their story was good or bad.