1. Flying Geese
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    Flying Geese Contributing Member

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    How Would You Go About Getting Beta-Readers?

    Discussion in 'Book Discussion' started by Flying Geese, Oct 23, 2014.

    So I am nearing the end of my second novel. I have learned much from my first failure last year. This time around I am much more confident and I am putting everything I have into this.

    I want to try to get this book into as many hands as possible, but I'm actually not really all that familiar with the term beta-reader. How do you get help from every avenue possible?

    *Also, I am already planning to do a Kickstarter for this book
     
  2. B.Loxy
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    B.Loxy New Member

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    Well, what I do (bare in mind I don't have an agent, I am only writing rough drafts of novels) is that I offer it around to anyone who wants to read it (keep a track however) but make sure they understand that they need to read it, not just leave it alone (a few of my proof readers have done that and its been really difficult)

    That means you're getting a wide range of people who will tell you what you think. Then get specialised people, if you have a friend who does english teaching or writes themselves get them to read over it and give it a good review (I have been trying to do that).

    Hope this helps!
     
  3. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's REALLY hard to find a good beta reader. The best way I have found is to get into a real-life writing group and find others who may write in a similar genre or just who are good beta readers.
     
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  4. Flying Geese
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    Flying Geese Contributing Member

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    Thanks guys. Yeah, I can get nearly 100 people to say they'll read it. But in the end only about 3 or 4 actually will.

    I will see if there are any real life writers near me.
     
  5. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I don't know if this will work for you, but it worked for me.

    Let it be known amongst your friends, family and colleagues or schoolmates that you are writing a novel. Several (or many!) will ask if they can read it. Tell them yes. However, do NOT force them to read it, or force them to get back to you afterwards. If they don't like it, or don't finish it, or don't know what to say to you ...that's the uncertainty you'll need to live with. In fact, make it clear that if they don't like it or whatever, that's okay. You would appreciate being told that they've given up on it, so you won't sit around waiting for feedback that's not coming, but even that's not a must. Give them permission to just read it, the way they would read any book.

    The ones who do get back to you will be the people you pay attention to. These are possibly representative of your target audience. Pay VERY careful attention to what they say about your story. This doesn't mean you have to change things to please them, necessarily, but it's worth at least considering their points of view. Some of them will come up with stuff you've not even thought of, observations and suggestions that will strike you as being just right.

    I would say don't hunt up other writers as betas, at least not yet. Feedback from just plain readers is very VERY valuable. They will not be interested in trying to edit or re-write your story, but will just give you feedback on what's there. They'll tell you which characters they liked or didn't like. Which parts of the story made them laugh or cry or whatever. What bits bored them. What bits they skipped over. This kind of feedback may not come from experts, but it's exactly what you need to know, as a writer, about the thing you've created. Is your meaning clear to them, or are they confused? Did they get the wrong end of the stick in certain situations? Do they love, hate, laugh and cry at the right places?

    My rule of thumb for judging feedback is this: do the betas want to talk about your characters and your story? If they do, you've probably 'got' them, and can work with what they tell you. If all they talk about is your style of writing, then you probably don't. This can be your fault or theirs, of course, and I wouldn't say to dismiss their opinions. But it's the readers who paid attention to and 'got' your story who will be the most valuable at this stage.

    Once you've had your initial wave of feedback, and made the changes you want to make, based on what they told you ....THEN maybe look for other writers to get into the editing phase with you. They can look at the mechanics of the piece and help you decide how to streamline and focus the story.

    DON'T give out an unedited, badly spelled and punctuated, ungrammatical or sloppy story to your first eager betas, though. Polish it hard, before anybody sees it. If you give your friends something that's barely readable, they are not going to finish it, or have anything much to say to you if they do. Pretend it's a finished book and they are the first people to take it off the shelves.

    Treat the betas with respect, and always remember they don't have to like what you've written. They might not be able to get past the first couple of pages. If they are your friends, they will feel bad about this. Make it clear that your relationship with them will be unchanged, no matter what their reaction might be. AND then make sure you stick to that. Never resent a beta for what they can't always give you ...approval.

    It's a very interesting process, by the way. You learn patience, develop a thick skin, and learn to listen with an open mind. You will become obsessed with making the story as good as it can get. You will stop defending every precious word, character, scene and phrase and become willing to alter them to improve your creation. That's where real editing starts.
     
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  6. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    Beyond even just getting someone to read it, though, is getting meaningful feedback. When those readers just respond with:
    "Yeah, I liked it."
    And you ask, "what did you like?"
    And they reply, "Oh, just the whole thing. It was good."
    You: "Anything in particular you liked?"
    Them: "Oh, just everything. It was good."

    It's not helpful.
    You really need people who can point out where they got confused, bored, stopped reading for a while, etc.
     
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