1. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    beta-readers

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Garball, Apr 28, 2013.

    I'm currently rewriting my MS and want to send it to several friends/family that I know will not pull punches when critiquing (No high school students :p) before submitting to an agent.
    Questions:
    Is this common practice?
    Do I need to worry about copywriting material at this point?
    When do you begin to worry about copywriting material?
    What should be the punishment for somebody who eats the chocolate and vanilla and only leaves you the strawberry in your Neapolitan ice cream?
     
  2. suddenly BANSHEES
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    suddenly BANSHEES Contributing Member

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    1. Yes, I'm sure there are plenty of people who let their friends/family look over their work before submitting it someplace.
    2. Unless you absolutely do not trust one of the people you're having look over your work, you probably don't need to worry about that just yet. (Although if you're that wary of your betas, it might be a good idea to not give them your story in the first place..)
    3. I'd assume you deal with all that stuff once it's been accepted someplace? But I could be wrong.
    4. Twenty years in the dungeon. No trial.
     
  3. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Using beta readers is fairly common. Using friends and family is a bit tricky because they sometimes tell you what you want to hear. But if you trust their judgment, go for it.

    Your work is protected by copyright (note the spelling) the second you write it down. So you don't need to do anything.
     
  4. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    One of the hardest things is finding good beta readers. Not only do you need to find readers who like to read your particular genre, but you have to find people who are able to articulate specifically what they liked and what they did not like about the story. When you find one, treasure him or her accordingly. There's not a lot more frustrating than sending out your story, waiting and waiting and waiting to hear back, and finally they tell you the finished the story. "Well, what did you think?" And the response you get is: "Yeah, it was good. I liked it. Good job." A million things go through your mind, you're dying to hear more -- how great is it that they liked it? "Well, what did you like?" He or she responds with something like, "Oh, I don't know. The story was good. It was interesting." And that's all you get out of them.

    Worse is when you don't hear back from them at all. Then you assume that they found it so horribly tedious to slog through your story that they just couldn't force themselves to read even one more page. And you think that they just don't know how to tell you this, so you worry that they are starting to avoid you, or that any encounter will be awkward, because you're dying to know whether they finished the story. Even if they despised it, you'd just like to know why. But they never say anything. And you have to move on.

    Good luck with your betas. I hope they give you some good insights.
     
  5. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Omigod. You are SO right, Chicagoliz. They beg you to let them read your story (I NEVER ask anybody to read my stuff, but only give it to people who ask ME) so you print it off and give it to them. And then you wait. And wait and wait and wait and wait ...and then you find out they haven't started it yet, or can't get past the first three pages because their dog died, or their lettuce is coming up and has to be harvested, or whatever. You TRY not to scream and turn cartwheels off a bridge.

    Of course they're not writers, so they don't know what that feels like!

    Those of us who are, know that if you're going to read for somebody, you need to DO it, do it quickly, and certainly get back to the writer ASAP with some sort of response.

    As you say, Chicagoliz, treasure your good betas. They are worth their weight in gold. They may be your best friends and/or family. OR they may be total strangers. You're also right in pointing out that it helps if they like the sort of thing you've written. They will know what you're trying to achieve, and will be able to tell if you've achieved it or not.
     

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