Tags:
  1. DrWhozit
    Offline

    DrWhozit Banned

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2013
    Messages:
    581
    Likes Received:
    67
    Location:
    Close to Indy, USA

    Is there a beta reader in the house?

    Discussion in 'The Art of Critique' started by DrWhozit, Dec 11, 2013.

    Basically that. It is difficult to truly know if one's novel is ready to publish, regardless of the publishing method, till they've had some feedback. I placed an excerpt from a novel I've written and edited more than once in the novel workshop area.

    http://www.writingforums.org/threads/tweak-or-the-universal-manual-of-time-travel-3600-words.129591/#post-1174913

    It's had several views, but only one person responded. Although the critique was upbeat and constructive, the fellow was struggling with "insufficient data." I added some of the extra portions of the prologue, but now the 3600 word count in the title is no longer valid. On top of that, it seemed futile to add the supporting text.

    Upon discussing this with a mod, the need for a "beta reader" surfaced. Out of 40,000 members it would seem some might qualify as beta readers. The question about that is copyright protection, thus the trust involved. How does one go about finding these beta readers and, also seemingly appropriate, compensating them for the effort? Maybe consider shut-ins?
     
  2. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    i don't read entire novel mss for free, but as part of the mentoring process [which is free], i can check your first chapter and let you know if the ms is ready for publishing... that would include detailed notes on whatever i might find that needs work...

    if that would help, email me when you're ready... feedback from mentees and clients in the 'writing services' sections on my website should allay your fears about trust issues...

    love and hugs, maia
    maia3maia@hotmail.com
     
  3. DrWhozit
    Offline

    DrWhozit Banned

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2013
    Messages:
    581
    Likes Received:
    67
    Location:
    Close to Indy, USA
    Can you offer us all an idea of how you calculate your rates? What can one expect from your reading services?
     
  4. aClem
    Offline

    aClem Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2013
    Messages:
    197
    Likes Received:
    53
    Location:
    San Jose, Costa Rica
    I would be willing to do a reciprocal I'll show you mine if you show me yours type thing. I have about 30 pages of something and my biggest question is not if it's ready to publish, as it is NOT, but if it is interesting. I am convinced the subject matter itself is interesting but I wonder what level of detail or not strictly relevant material might cause the reader to get uninterested. I would not be inclined to steal anyone's ideas because I don't write fiction or non-fiction that requires much research. I am lazy. Honest, but lazy. Anyway, if interested, msg me or reply here.
     
  5. DrWhozit
    Offline

    DrWhozit Banned

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2013
    Messages:
    581
    Likes Received:
    67
    Location:
    Close to Indy, USA
    @aClem
    If all you have is 30 pages, the writers workshop is going to do you more good. The book I have is currently 307 pages/149,000 words. I'll be editing it at least one more time and doing CG illustrations to accompany it, so it won't be ready till late next year.
    Once you get past your first 14 days here, have 20 posts, thus full member privileges, you need to make 2 critiques in the workshop for each work you post for critique. Once you are at that point, I'd be happy to offer some critique. I don't know if critiques you do prior to full membership count toward the "trade-off" quota. Mammamaia might know that.
     
  6. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    This is not the purpose of the Reviewing forum, or of this site.

    If you want editing or other professional services, you should us google, and expect to pay the going rates.

    We have had serious problems in the past from members requesting full reads and then harassing the person who was kind enough to give it a try.
     
  7. DrWhozit
    Offline

    DrWhozit Banned

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2013
    Messages:
    581
    Likes Received:
    67
    Location:
    Close to Indy, USA
    That's sad.

    Did you actually read this part of the OP? Of course you did answer the question of "how does one find." Why make everyone search when you may already know quite a few sites of those who do beta reads? Maybe it's my slight dyslexia, but after two reads I couldn't see where this was against the rules. I do agree it should be laden with mutual consideration.
    If it's a "No," it is such. Once again, sad though.
     
  8. Leigh Silvester
    Offline

    Leigh Silvester Member

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2013
    Messages:
    69
    Likes Received:
    14
    The secret is having some honest critical friends and acquaintances.
    I'm not sure how much I would trust someone I didn't know.

    I have a couple of folk who look at stuff occasionally. One is a late bloomer currently doing an english degree and the other is a secretary and proof reader who is actively involved in creative writing and book clubs.
    I know them both and spend time with them whenever possible - which is not very often. I am aware of their interests and particular strengths which helps me understand their perpsectives. They also send me stuff to look at occasionally.

    Buying them coffee occasionally helps.
    Should anything I do evolve into a substantial body of writing then I would certainly express my gratitude in a significant manner.

    I can see that forums such as this are great for posting snatches and sections, however I would not expect many to read through a whole book posted on here.
    If this is serious writing time then you will probably pay beta readers and I would imagine you would have a legal agreement with them to defend yourself against theft.
     
  9. DrWhozit
    Offline

    DrWhozit Banned

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2013
    Messages:
    581
    Likes Received:
    67
    Location:
    Close to Indy, USA
    Personally, I'll do the copyright thing. $35 for that protection isn't so bad. I could see paying a penny per 30 words perhaps. In my case that comes out to $50 for a good read. I think I'd rather see how someone reacts to a snippet here, or, like mammmaia said, send a chapter for a free "sample" read. I certainly don't want to wind up paying hundreds.
    Friends and relatives are okay. The book in my link was red by the relative of the leading lady in the series, since it's written in her honor and memory, with good review and blessings to publish using her cousin as a character down to her name. That's a plus.

    Beyond that, it's tough to find readers, ebook at that.
    If you look at the book in my link, you'd see one fellow did seem to like my writing as just that. Snippets hardly do a reader much justice.

    As for my work, I'm confident it's ready to publish. As for this thread becoming a role call of willing readers, I've already caught a bit of flack it seems. I'm sure if others followed Mammamaia's example, her/his business wouldn't hurt from competition. I'm thinking of offering a similar service after thinking more about it.
     
  10. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    i calculate fees on a case by case basis, am able to keep them below the going pro rates since i don't have to do it for a living any more... and i even arrange monthly payments for those who can't manage the standard 'half up front and balance on completion' pay structure, since i do it more to help, than to augment my income...

    what one can expect is whatever the client needs... and i don't offer 'reading services'... they're 'writing services' that include editing [of various levels], rewriting and ghostwriting...

    mentoring [which is free, of course], consists mainly of offering support, information, advice and usually includes an assessment of the mentees' writing, with detailed notes on what needs work and why, plus suggestions on how to upgrade their writing skills...
     
  11. DrWhozit
    Offline

    DrWhozit Banned

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2013
    Messages:
    581
    Likes Received:
    67
    Location:
    Close to Indy, USA
    @mammamaia

    I probably should just check out your website. That said, I'd say the question that for some here, including me, might be "Is there a need for beta readers and how should one charge?" The fact that there are 40,000 members claimed for this forum, while only a few even respond to a thread about beta readers, suggests there are far more aspiring writers than test readers. I would think to ask someone to read their book when they might not otherwise, deserves something for their time.

    The one girl who read mine is an avid book worm, but also my first childhood sweetie. What she liked is the way I keep the reader moving along the monkey bars to see where I return to a cliffhanger section. She also liked how I spend some time developing the characters historically. I accept that as genuine critique. I can't help but wonder if she withheld any negatives, other than she did mention a few grammatical inconsistencies. For an educated friend, that's a decent freebie.

    So I have to ask, "What is reasonable?" I'm certain an aspiring writer could earn and learn at the same time by doing beta reads.

    Addendum: Visited your site. Interesting. We are likely kindred souls of sorts. Obviously, I'm a harbinger as well and a satirist. I sometimes refer to myself with reference to Heinlein's "Stranger in A Strange Land."
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2013
  12. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    re one of my all-time favorite book's title, go back to the site and read if you haven't already]:

    [links removed]

    'all hail, fellow, and well met'!

    m
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 16, 2013
  13. DrWhozit
    Offline

    DrWhozit Banned

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2013
    Messages:
    581
    Likes Received:
    67
    Location:
    Close to Indy, USA
    I will, but I'm busy building a fireplace at the moment. It was 2 degrees a couple nights ago and some recent events put me waaaay behind in the home improvement projects. I'm reasonably sure folks in Oregon are no strangers to the arctic blasts that be...
     
  14. Mckk
    Offline

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    4,749
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    What kind of compensation are you talking about though? I'd be happy to be a test reader on condition that I'm actually interested in the story, so first of all you'd need to give more info on your story, preferably a synopsis.

    Also, when looking for a beta, you got to be careful. It's not about just finding ANYONE who's willing. It's really not. Finding the right beta reader is crucial. I'm my friend's beta at the moment and I'm struggling not to just close the book because I'm so annoyed with the changing POV and the many story lines that seem new at every scene. I prefer one story line, with one strong character to focus on. My friend has a handful of MCs. So does my dislike mean her book isn't good enough? Not at all. Does my dislike mean she should change it? Not at all! The point is, I'm not her primary audience, and therefore the things I criticise may well be things another audience would adore. Do you see where I am going? It means if she changes everything I mentioned, soon her story would no longer be the story she loved, the way she would write it, and it would destroy her book.

    Does it mean nothing I say is reliable? No. Certainly my points are valid. But it is much harder for the author to distinguish which piece of advice to take, and which piece of advice to ignore, when it's coming from a trusted reader/writer whose taste is simply not what your book is catering for.

    If you find a truly unsuitable beta reader, it could even end up destroying all your belief and passion for your book - even if you never listen to a word and never make any physical changes, the blow on your zeal for your story is hard to repair in the long term - and beta readers stay with you for quite a chunk of the writing journey.

    The same piece of critique that comes from 2 different people can have drastically different effects. If it comes from someone who "gets" your work and admires your work, it's easier to swallow, it's better for your motivation and self-esteem, and it's clearer when it's advice you should listen to. Here's someone who gets your work absolutely, so if they object to something, there must be something there. On the other hand, the one who does not truly "get" your work, and maybe doesn't even enjoy your writing - even if the same piece of critique comes out of this person, it would be like swallowing something bitter because at its core is that self-doubt, and defensiveness because you're gonna be second-guessing the advice, thinking, "Well, maybe you just didn't get what I was trying to do. It's just your personal taste!"

    Whether the critique comes from a spring of admiration and understanding, or from a spring of critical judgement is essential to how you take the advice, how you react/respond, and how you grow, and essentially how useful the critique would be to you. And sometimes one person knows how to approach you, say it in such a way that's encouraging, rather than discouraging, even though actually, they're saying the same thing. All this is crucial if you don't want the life beaten out of you and your book.

    PS. I'm actually saying this from some experience of surrounding myself with some of the most unsuitable readers for the better part of 2 years. And no, I have not recovered, and that's what's sad.
     
    obsidian_cicatrix likes this.
  15. DrWhozit
    Offline

    DrWhozit Banned

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2013
    Messages:
    581
    Likes Received:
    67
    Location:
    Close to Indy, USA
    http://www.writingforums.org/threads/tweak-prologue-excerpt-3100-words.129680/

    This isn't exactly a synopsis, but I'd be willing to give it shot once I do a final edit. I'm a "take the good with the bad" sort of fellow. If you look at the responses to the thread linked in the OP, you'll see what I think is helpful. In the end, I'm wanting, more than SPAG critique (although that's appreciated, too...), the feel for whether the reader is becoming "owned" by the universe and time travel.
     
  16. Mckk
    Offline

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    4,749
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    Had a look at the first snippet - the email by Lynda. I stopped after that. Based on a pretty difficult to read first sentence in the second snippet, I stopped, and also don't immediately get how it's connected with the first snippet. I assume you've probably changed a lot and edited it a lot since that prologue. The emotion in the prologue feels forced and unnatural, there's no build up and does not trigger any genuine emotional responses - at least for me. On top of this, how Lynda calls him "Baby" and her desperate exclamations are extremely off-putting, reason being the emotions already felt forced, so this emphasis makes it fake, not more sincere. It's trying far too hard, in my opinion. The joke at the end isn't funny, and based on my general impression of it already, it sorta hit the nail in the coffin for me.

    So, to answer your question, I was not at all owned by your universe because Lynda didn't seem real as a character, and I care nothing for Alexander since I don't know him, therefore he's just a name and not a character for me yet.

    Needless to say, I might not be the beta you're looking for :) Occasional critique in a workshop though, I might be of some help. However I naturally hate editing and thus shy away from extremely long pieces lol (which is also why I didn't read much more of your link - far too long for me).
     
  17. DrWhozit
    Offline

    DrWhozit Banned

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2013
    Messages:
    581
    Likes Received:
    67
    Location:
    Close to Indy, USA
    @Mckk

    I suppose it would have been better to leave it in that thread, but that's okay. I imagine a note written to someone else doesn't hook every reader. Don't forget you're reading the words of a woman locked in solitude, save for AI beings, over 30 years. Finding her long lost love, that also being her key out of what the reader doesn't yet know is

    laserstation3g - Copynet.jpg
    an outpost in space. She's bound to be a little flighty about then...
     
  18. Mckk
    Offline

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    4,749
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    There's no "don't forget" about this. How can I remember something you have not told me? There's nothing to suggest any of what you've said, or the length of time it's been, aside for perhaps one mention (I don't remember anymore, but I have a feeling maybe you wrote something like "It's been X years"). Don't forget what, exactly? Also, you mention another character called Maggie - if she's AI, how am I supposed to know that? As far as I'm concerned, Lynda's with a human being and therefore likely with a whole team of humans.

    That's the thing - you haven't conveyed what you needed to, in essence. If it's been 30 years, I should feel those 30 years of loneliness in the letter. I don't. I do, however, feel her flightiness. Without the backdrop of loneliness, that's just bizarre, not sympathetic. You haven't conveyed the background at all, other than that her husband's missing and there's a time machine she presumably wants to use to get her husband back. You haven't conveyed what kind of action or goal would be involved, as Lynda seems pretty helpless. You're relying heavily here on character sympathy to keep the reader going. Nothing wrong with this, but your problem is that there's none. If you're saying "Don't forget" then perhaps that's info you should include, otherwise I cannot "forget" it - there's nothing to remember.

    My most major objection is that it conjures no emotional responses from me. The letter reads like the author's work, not Lynda's work. It reads like what you want her to say, not what she would have said.

    I feel like what you have is a skeleton - that is the CORE of what you want the reader to know and feel - now you gotta wrap it up in something more that makes the reader actually feel that core, not only read the core. Hmm, I'm not sure I'm making sense here so I hope you get my point :p

    Take what you think is helpful, change only what you feel should be changed. I am one reader and one opinion. It's up to you what you do with my opinion.

    PS. No I did not get the sense that she's desperate to leave the place she's in. I got the sense that she wishes to be with her husband again, but nothing of whether she likes the place she's actually in. Perhaps another thing to include in your opening.
     
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2013
  19. Wreybies
    Offline

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    18,834
    Likes Received:
    10,013
    Location:
    Puerto Rico
    This thread is starting to play very slipshod with the Forum Rules and is becoming an outgrowth of the Writing Workshop. Excerpts from WIP's go in the Writing Workshop, not here.

    @mammamaia, I need you to please stop linking your books into posts in the forum. This violates our self promotion rule, a rule that applies to all members equally.
     
    Mckk and Cogito like this.
  20. DrWhozit
    Offline

    DrWhozit Banned

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2013
    Messages:
    581
    Likes Received:
    67
    Location:
    Close to Indy, USA
    Hmmm... I thought the rules blessed putting links to work we have here in the forum and workshop. I was a bit concerned about the critique showing up here. I hadn't given thought number one to the links to mammamaia's site. Does that include email addresses, too?
     
  21. Wreybies
    Offline

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    18,834
    Likes Received:
    10,013
    Location:
    Puerto Rico
    A link is one thing, actual excerpt text is another. And "bless" is a strong word. It's not expressly forbidden, but it's not exactly a "done" thing.

    One's email is not a self promotion tool unless that email comes as part of a message promoting services. Be that the case, it's not the email that is problematic, but the promotion of services.
     
  22. DrWhozit
    Offline

    DrWhozit Banned

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2013
    Messages:
    581
    Likes Received:
    67
    Location:
    Close to Indy, USA
    Is it problematic discussing the nature of becoming a beta reader? What about discussing what a beta reader should charge for their service if they provided it? Honestly, it sounds more lucrative to be a reader than a writer in some ways...
     
  23. Wreybies
    Offline

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    18,834
    Likes Received:
    10,013
    Location:
    Puerto Rico
    I'm going to leave that to the good sense of the players involved. The rules are on display for all to see. I think the members are adult enough to know the difference between talking about a process and actually hawking wears or services.
     
  24. DrWhozit
    Offline

    DrWhozit Banned

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2013
    Messages:
    581
    Likes Received:
    67
    Location:
    Close to Indy, USA
    Now really... Does anyone of us reaaaallly care what Hawking wears? Probably has a colostomy bag hanging off the side of his wheelchair... :D

    ***slap!!!***

    Hey! I just couldn't resist.:eek:
     
  25. Wreybies
    Offline

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    18,834
    Likes Received:
    10,013
    Location:
    Puerto Rico
    LOL :D I hear he's a Burberry guy. For all the brains, he's a chav at heart :p
     
    obsidian_cicatrix likes this.

Share This Page