1. JosephMarch
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    JosephMarch Active Member

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    Would you do this? (beta reader)

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by JosephMarch, Oct 21, 2015.

    I have a friend who is an avid reader. I would like to give her my book to read and critique, but I would tell her it is someone else's. Is that terrible? I would tell her after that it was mine, but I want her true 'non-friend' opinion.
     
  2. Indigo Sugar
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    Indigo Sugar Member

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    I would do it. Is it your way of safe guarding yourself? Are you afraid that your friend would see it differently if she knew it was you that wrote it?

    IF you do that, let me know how it turns out.
     
  3. JosephMarch
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    JosephMarch Active Member

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    I just want her true, unbiased opinion as a reader. I am currently editing, but I might have to transfer it to be readable on an ipad...will be looking for help with that here as well, I'm sure!
     
  4. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Asking someone to read a "random" book seems rather strange, doesn't it? You actually think your friend will fall for it?
     
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  5. Nicoel
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    Nicoel Contributing Member

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    Sure, I'm considering doing the same with my friend. Send her a pdf version of it, and just say you discovered it online and thought it was interesting and you'd like her opinion.

    Or you could say you're helping an author from a writing forum edit their piece, and would like your opinion before you finalized your thoughts. It's not a complete lie - just don't clarify YOU'RE the author you're editing it for.
     
  6. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I don't know if I'd do it. If you're afraid they won't be honest maybe give the beta reader a sheet to fill out to help them be more constructive with their critique. Some readers don't know how to give feedback accept for the obvious - I didn't like it, I liked it, it was boring.
     
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  7. Woof
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    Woof Contributing Member

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    You want to manipulate your friend into providing what you believe will be a truer opinion? That's flawed in itself. People generally don't like to be managed, and especially not in their personal relationships. Besides, for all you know your friend may provide a more considered, careful and valuable response because they know it matters to you. Bias isn't always a bad thing! If you trust her, and be truthful about what you need should she agree to help, you're more likely to get meaningful input than if you try and control everything in the process.
     
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  8. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    While the notion sounds interesting ...I wouldn't do it. If somebody did that to me, I'd be really upset. I don't like being lied to.

    What you should do is tell her that you are interested in anything she wants to say about what you've written, and that your friendship will NOT suffer one iota—even if she can't stand it, or can't get into it at all. Tell her you're asking for her opinion because you know she's an avid reader, and she will probably be able to tell if your writing is up to scratch or not.

    Tell her your friendship will not suffer at all, no matter what she says about your writing. And you have to mean it. Even if she says things you don't want to hear, or couches things in a plain fashion that you find hurtful. You have to be honest with yourself as well. If you won't be able to forgive negativity, then line up some other betas who aren't already your friends.
     
  9. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    No. Unless she's a bit... naive... she will guess something is up and be guarded. Even if she does fall for it, she will likely be (rightly) pissed when you reveal you've been lying.

    I understand why you want to do it. I gave mine to my best friend before anybody else and everything she said I was double-guessing. "Is she just saying nice things to encourage me?" "Did she tame down that criticism because she didn't want to affect our relationship?" But unless this friend is going to be your only beta reader, which is a terrible idea in itself, does it really matter?

    Maybe she will turn out to be your most brutally honest critic. :)
     
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  10. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Why give your book to someone whom you don't trust enough to give an honest opinion?
     
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  11. DueNorth
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    DueNorth Active Member

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    No. Lying is for our works of fiction--tends to get us in big trouble in our real-life relationships.
     
  12. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    I don't think that's fair. It's not about trust, it's about knowing that there are complexities in personal relationships that mean you interact in a certain way. Friends who care about you don't want to hurt your feelings so they moderate what they say to you in order to avoid offence.
     
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  13. Aple
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    Aple Member

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    Honestly any time a friend reads a book it's going to come back biase. Unless you have really horrible friends.

    You're best bet is to find a crit partner or two and have then read it and tear it apart to help improve it.

    My writing g life changed the moment I found my two crit partners. They make me such a better writer and once they've gone through it and I've edited THEN I send my books off to betas.
     
  14. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    But that's the thing - moderated critique is not always a bad thing. Sensitive and gentle feedback can still be honest, but one might not put in the effort to give such thoughtful feedback if it was just a random book. You might just say, "Oh it sucked!" :ohno: Now perhaps that's true, but I know I'd rather hear, "This needs work. The metaphor doesn't make sense," as opposed to, "This was hilariously bad. What was the writer thinking, using sheep as a metaphor for teeth!?" Wouldn't you?

    And the sheep thing is from the Bible teehee :D
     
  15. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    Song of Solomon 6:6. Tells you how much they valued both sheep and a full set of teeth in ancient Hebrew culture! :D

    But yeah, OP. The only way she could really insult you is to never bother to read your manuscript at all, which is likely to happen if she thinks it's by some random author you came across online or by a friend of a friend of a friend.

    Besides, she might be the type who'd not want to offend you by saying she didn't like something you admired, even if it wasn't yours. So why not get it over with and tell the truth that it is?
     
  16. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Another vote for don't do it. Friends shouldn't lie to each other.

    Try to convince your friend you want honest feedback. Ask specific questions to elicit that feedback. But don't lie. Not a good move, friendship-wise.
     
  17. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    So what if your friend doesn't give you a totally honest response? Getting feedback is all about picking up ideas that make sense to you. Whatever he or she says to you is only useful if it makes sense. You have to leave the personal out of it.
     
  18. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Joseph, I have a better idea...
    Give her something that is intentionally bad. If she tells you the truth about it, tell her she passed the test, and then give her the real one to read, also.
     
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  19. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you manipulated me this way, you would no longer have me as a friend.
     
  20. DefinitelyMaybe
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    DefinitelyMaybe Contributing Member Contributor

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    I wouldn't object if someone did this to me. (I'm not disagreeing with @ChickenFreak and others, just expressing my own personality.) However, if they did this, I gave my honest opinion, and they were in any way sticky concerning that opinion, then I would have a problem with that.

    If anyone did do what is suggested in the OP, then I think that a) there's a big risk as if the reader learns what has happened, they may object. And b) they'd have to be very, very, accepting of the opinion no matter what it is.
     
  21. Ippo
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    Ippo Member

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    Brillant, do that!

    Ps. how incredibly sensitive are you guys to end a friendship because of "being lied to" in such an insignificant way...
     
  22. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    You would find it insignificant to be told "I don't trust you to be honest so I'm going to try and trick you into it"? Interesting.
     
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  23. NigeTheHat
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    NigeTheHat Contributing Member Contributor

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    Like you said above, it's not about trust, it's about bias. I wouldn't care about being lied to like that, because I understand that kind of bias exists. I'm rather more likely to care that they thought I was dumb enough to fall for it.
     
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  24. Ippo
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    Ippo Member

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    Yes it's sneaky but if your friendships are that dry-serious and superficial that you would end it because of something harmless as that then in my book that's not friendship at all. I don't know you or the others here personally, of course, but this attitude reminds me of those uptight people who talk in an almost formal way with their "friends". "Oh, you betrayed my trust. My dear, I am afraid that this is where our ways part." *hon hon hon*

    This I do understand.
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2015
  25. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    You're idealizing things too much. Look, it's absurd to ask a friend to read a book written by some amateur they don't even know. Who the hell is going to fall for that?
     

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