1. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Beta Reading What's a Good Number...

    Discussion in 'Collaboration' started by EdFromNY, Jun 20, 2014.

    ...of beta readers to seek? Thus far, I've recruited five, each for a particular perspective. I'm comfortable with that but curious to know what others do.
     
  2. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    I currently have three that read sections as I write (so they get stuff out of order and in bits) which actually keeps me on track continuity wise. The same three along with an additional two get to read the whole thing in it's entirety from start to finish and then there's a sixth that does a more in depth read and follows up by asking me lots of questions from which I then re-edit.
     
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  3. aikoaiko
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    aikoaiko Contributing Member

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    I'd be interested in the response to this as well. I've always read that 5 is a good number (or at least 5, I guess), but how much is too much? And how many beta readers are too little?

    Also, would you pass them out to all 5 at the same time or do it in consecutive order? I think it would be hard to juggle so many comments simultaneously:(.
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2014
  4. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    My 2 cents, it depends on what your writing level needs. If the book is almost publish ready, perhaps only one or two. If your work needs a lot more editing and polishing, I'm not so sure a critique group wouldn't be better than beta readers.

    My novel, for example: the story is almost finished. And I've really gotten the hang of showing and not telling. But I have a lot of work to do learning how to write good description. I still need a critique group even though my WIP is almost to the point of being a novel a beta reader could read.
     
  5. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Update: my beta-group is now four. I have asked one of the original five, who started by requesting a synopsis (which I supplied against my better judgment) and then made comments based solely upon that synopsis and the first chapter that were superficial and showed a total lack of comprehension not only of the work but of the market, not to continue.
     
  6. aikoaiko
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    aikoaiko Contributing Member

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    Ed, have you given it to all four at the same time? And did you use a critique group as well?
     
  7. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Pretty much, yes.

    No.
     
  8. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    As somebody who has had probably about 25 beta readers read finished drafts throughout my process, I'd say it's important to get a couple of tranches going. After the first tranch gives initial feedback, you'll want to do a fair bit of editing if you're anything like me. Once you get THAT edit done to perfection, then it's a good idea to have a few new betas on hand. From their reaction, you'll learn whether or not you've solved the issues the original betas pointed out. Go from there. If there are lots of new/other issues to deal with, then keep going. Edit, new betas, etc, until you feel you've improved as much as you can, or want to.
     
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  9. aikoaiko
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    aikoaiko Contributing Member

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    That makes sense. It seems like you would have to find a way to organize so much information coming your way at the same time---just to keep things straight in your head. Of course, it also follows that the MS would have to be in an advanced stage to begin with. I'm nowhere near that point myself, but it's nice to know how it all 'works'!:)
     
  10. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    One of my personal 'rules' is I never ask anybody to beta-read for me. All my readers have been people who volunteered.

    While it's pretty easy to get people who want to read your stuff the first time, it's a rare person who asks to read it twice. (There are a few, but not many!) So it's a good idea not to give your book to EVERYBODY who asks for it the first time. Tell some of your eager volunteers they'll get the 'new and improved version,' after the next edit. It's always good to have fresh eyes on the case, anyway.
     
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  11. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I was a beta reader once. I read the book, thought it was fairly good, mentioned the potential I saw in it (the writer was a she). Five months later she asks me to read the new version. I agreed. She had not only disregarded every iota of advice I had given her, but had taken out almost all the parts I liked, and replicated almost all the parts I didn't like. And when I asked her what was up, her answer was that she had decided to go for a girl market.

    And the reason why she asked me, a male, to read this new version was because????:confused:


    The moral of this story is to respect your beta readers. That's a week of my life I can't get back.
     
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  12. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    oh dear ...urkkk... well, maybe Karma will grant you another week of life to compensate...
     
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  13. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    @123456789 - If she thinks that going for a "girl market" means that she can/should ignore any comment a male writer makes about her story, I see a very disappointed writer in the near future.
     
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  14. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    Very true. By taking that tack she has already alienated a large number of women who dislike that kind of approach, myself included. I'd rather a writer saw me, the reader, as a person, not a gender.
     
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  15. aikoaiko
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    aikoaiko Contributing Member

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    I agree. I would think at least a few opinions from both genders would be needed no matter what the genre was! In my limited experience of having one of each read an MS I was surprised to get vastly different opinions on both the characters and the story.:rolleyes: I guess certain things stand out no matter who is reading (like SPaG, syntax), but when it comes to character interaction and the general direction of a story, you're going to get different opinions from both!
     
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  16. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    But how is it that you didn't know she'd be this way? Usually you can tell by just talking to the writers, and seeing revised versions of select scenes, if they're somebody who'd actually listen and thus, be worth your time and effort.
     

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