1. Catrin Lewis
    Offline

    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2014
    Messages:
    1,666
    Likes Received:
    1,064
    Location:
    Pennsylvania

    You Know You've Got the Wrong Beta Reader When . . .

    Discussion in 'The Art of Critique' started by Catrin Lewis, Apr 24, 2016.

    As someone who has beta-read and has been beta-read for, I know how valuable the process can be. Sometimes it's the most critical readers who will point out exactly what's missing in your story, so you can correct the problem and make it better.

    But occasionally, it just doesn't work. So since I'm feeling a little perverse today, I propose starting this thread.

    I'll go first. You know you've got the wrong beta reader when . . . she starts telling you what your characters would and wouldn't do-- on the very first page.

    EDIT: In all fairness, it was the very first scene. Still.
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2016
  2. BayView
    Offline

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    5,600
    Likes Received:
    5,083
    When she says everything is perfect just the way it is.
     
  3. HelloImRex
    Offline

    HelloImRex Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2014
    Messages:
    267
    Likes Received:
    172
    You know you've got the wrong beta reader when your beta reader is a frog.
     
    Sifunkle, Oscar Leigh, Mckk and 2 others like this.
  4. Catrin Lewis
    Offline

    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2014
    Messages:
    1,666
    Likes Received:
    1,064
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    :superconfused:
     
    etherealcalc and peachalulu like this.
  5. doggiedude
    Offline

    doggiedude Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2016
    Messages:
    1,452
    Likes Received:
    1,248
    Location:
    Florida, USA, Earth, The Sol System
    [​IMG]
     
    Oscar Leigh, Mckk, jannert and 4 others like this.
  6. Catrin Lewis
    Offline

    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2014
    Messages:
    1,666
    Likes Received:
    1,064
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    " . . . Send me a kiss by wire; honey, my heart's on fire!"

    Eerwurm!
     
    Oscar Leigh and jannert like this.
  7. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,602
    Likes Received:
    5,877
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    Can we take this both directions?

    You know you aren't the right beta reader for an author when you tell them it's not ready (with your reasons of course) for a beta read and they dismiss you and go find another reader.
     
  8. DeadMoon
    Offline

    DeadMoon Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2014
    Messages:
    756
    Likes Received:
    441
    Location:
    fargo, ND
    You know you've got the wrong beta reader when you tell them what the book is about and they respond with "really?"
     
    Oscar Leigh and Catrin Lewis like this.
  9. DoctorDoom
    Offline

    DoctorDoom Member

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2016
    Messages:
    67
    Likes Received:
    45
    Location:
    The Netherspace
    Really?

    No, but in all seriousness, you know you have the wrong beta reader when they tell you not to accurately represent a perspective because it offends their own.
     
  10. Sack-a-Doo!
    Offline

    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2015
    Messages:
    2,231
    Likes Received:
    1,511
    Location:
    [unspecified]
    ... all he tells you is it's 'fine' and you should start submitting it.

    The same draft elicited pages and pages of comments, corrections and suggestions from our very own @Tenderiser who gave me so much valuable feedback, I'm putting her in for an award... as soon as they invent one. :)
     
  11. Dearest Mothership
    Offline

    Dearest Mothership Member

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2016
    Messages:
    61
    Likes Received:
    44
    You know you've got the wrong beta reader when you suddenly remember that you two are close friends.
     
    Sack-a-Doo! and tumblingdice like this.
  12. KhalieLa
    Offline

    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2015
    Messages:
    669
    Likes Received:
    390
    Location:
    United States
    You know you've got the wrong beta reader when they tell you romance has no place in a book, violence has no place in a book, magic has no place in a book, any religion save Christianity has no place in a book, and women cannot be main characters.

    And if the only stories you will look kindly on are man against nature, saved by the redeeming power of prayer, you should not offer yourself as a beta reader for any other genera!
     
  13. Brindy
    Offline

    Brindy Contributing Member Supporter

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2016
    Messages:
    404
    Likes Received:
    394
    Location:
    Somerset, UK
    ... when they tell you it's good, and when you ask them to elaborate, they tell you it's really good!

    They may be a fan, but they are not giving useful feedback.
     
  14. Inks
    Offline

    Inks Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2015
    Messages:
    655
    Likes Received:
    167
    When they have an asthmatic attack from reading it.

    True story.
     
    Oscar Leigh and Sack-a-Doo! like this.
  15. A.M.P.
    Offline

    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2013
    Messages:
    2,024
    Likes Received:
    1,125
    Location:
    A Place with no History
    You know you've got the wrong beta-reader when they give criticisms on characters they can't recall the names of.
     
    Oscar Leigh, Sack-a-Doo! and ToDandy like this.
  16. DoctorDoom
    Offline

    DoctorDoom Member

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2016
    Messages:
    67
    Likes Received:
    45
    Location:
    The Netherspace
    This sounds like personal experience. Do tell. I've only had church people do that when they try and read what I'm writing over my shoulder. Never had that happen in any official setting.

    Oh, no, wait, in my high-school OYAN class a ton of kids did that, but it wasn't like they asked to read my stuff, they had to as peer-review was part of the program. I will admit to intentionally putting provocative stuff in what I had read aloud in class just to bug them though. Poor kids thought I was a serial killer for the rest of the year. lol.

    @Brindy those people are the worst and most common in my opinion. The rest you can mock without it being deemed rude. Then it's just like, ok, thx for wasting my time, bye.

    @Inks what did you do, write the story on pressed oak pollen?

    You know you have the wrong beta reader when they skim read half a paragraph and then tell you how your fictional government is a liberal cesspool that is stupid and would never work in real life and then goes off on a tangent about how the conservative party is way better because on this fictional world college is free and the government employs people when they're in-between jobs. (at minimum wage manufacturing stuff in factories for companies the government owns, runs, staffs and gets all the profit from, btw.) Never mind that in the next paragraph it describes how everyone open carries, civilians shooting criminals is legal and public executions are a thing.
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2016
    Oscar Leigh and KhalieLa like this.
  17. peachalulu
    Offline

    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    May 20, 2012
    Messages:
    3,821
    Likes Received:
    2,380
    Location:
    occasionally Oz , mainly Canada
    Could be a good sign - it's that exciting.

    You know you have the wrong beta reader when they're trying to get you to sound more like their preferred choice of read.
     
    Oscar Leigh and Sack-a-Doo! like this.
  18. KhalieLa
    Offline

    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2015
    Messages:
    669
    Likes Received:
    390
    Location:
    United States
    I'm not going to derail this thread, but if you are interested there are several threads floating around which detail the joyous experiences I've had with beta readers and critique groups alike.
     
  19. Brindy
    Offline

    Brindy Contributing Member Supporter

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2016
    Messages:
    404
    Likes Received:
    394
    Location:
    Somerset, UK
    @Brindy those people are the worst and most common in my opinion. The rest you can mock without it being deemed rude. Then it's just like, ok, thx for wasting my time, bye.

    I have got the other extreme, one prints the whole manuscript off and goes through with different coloured highlighters to indicate, the brilliant, the ok and the awful..., can be a bit hard to see, but really useful. She's one I'll hang on to!
     
    Sack-a-Doo! likes this.
  20. doggiedude
    Offline

    doggiedude Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2016
    Messages:
    1,452
    Likes Received:
    1,248
    Location:
    Florida, USA, Earth, The Sol System
    YKYGTWBRW - It's a relative that you know would never want to insult you.

    (I'm looking for insults dammit! Argue with me! Tell me where I'm wrong!)
     
    Oscar Leigh and tumblingdice like this.
  21. Tenderiser
    Offline

    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2015
    Messages:
    4,285
    Likes Received:
    5,154
    Location:
    London, UK
    I was going to say that the worst beta reader is one who says everything is fine, but on second thoughts I think the worst is one determined not to like anything. At least the "OMG this is great!!!1" readers give you an ego boost. The ones who just want to tear authors down don't even do that. Thankfully I don't think they're common.

    I'm always a little perplexed when people talk about "bad" beta readers overlaying their biases onto a manuscript. I saw an advice article today that says beta readers should try to understand the author's "vision" for a book and only give feedback that helps the author achieve their vision. That's the LAST thing I want beta readers to do for me! My idea of a beta reader is someone who pretends to be reading the book for pleasure and gives you their impressions, complete with all their biases and likes and dislikes. It's then up to me as the author to filter their feedback and decide what to take and what not to take. I don't want my betas modifying their feedback for me. I want their honest opinions. I want to know if everyone hates my character because she's whiny, even if my vision of her is a whiny person.

    ANYWAY. I hope that wasn't off-topic even if it didn't answer the OP...

    My idea of the wrong beta reader is:
    • Someone who'd never buy my book because they hate romance or hate one of the tropes I used or whatever. I've tried this several times with beta readers and their feedback was useless. BUT I do like having beta readers who don't hate romance but don't love it either, as well as romance lovers.
    • Someone who focuses primarily on line editing (SPAG, phrasing). That's the least useful feedback for me. I want their thoughts and impressions and to know when they laughed and when they were annoyed. I can fix typos myself but I can never get a first impression of my own characters. I'd rather have a three-paragraph email of high-level feedback than a manuscript with 2,000 track changes.
    • Someone who's only doing it because they want me to do it for them. I don't like tit-for-tat beta-ing for many reasons.
    Apparently I'm a tough beta reader (I don't mean to be) so the "real" state of your MS is probably somewhere in the middle of those two extremes!
     
  22. Dearest Mothership
    Offline

    Dearest Mothership Member

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2016
    Messages:
    61
    Likes Received:
    44
    You should write erotica.
     
    Nicoel, Oscar Leigh and Cat Cherry like this.
  23. ToDandy
    Offline

    ToDandy Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2013
    Messages:
    336
    Likes Received:
    206
    Location:
    Bozeman Montana
    This is a great topic!

    You know you've got the wrong beta reader when the first things they say is, "I don't usually read this genre."
     
  24. ToDandy
    Offline

    ToDandy Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2013
    Messages:
    336
    Likes Received:
    206
    Location:
    Bozeman Montana
    I've had friends who were phenomenal beta readers and gave great critique. But then again, I majored in film, not english or journalism. We considered it a joy to get to rip apart someone else's work with equal parts savagery and honesty.
     
  25. A.M.P.
    Offline

    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2013
    Messages:
    2,024
    Likes Received:
    1,125
    Location:
    A Place with no History
    See, I'm a bit opposite on these two points.

    I don't get an ego boost from someone telling me it's good unless I know them as a writer.
    If I think they're talented and I've read their stuff before and was impressed, I get an ego boost.
    If it's someone who tells me it's great but I know their works aren't to my standards, then I'd be disappointed as I expect harsher criticisms from them (after all, beta-ing is a learning tool for both participants!)

    I enjoy the quid-pro-quo beta readings especially since we're all in the same boat and need help and encouragement.
    It'd be a bit rude to expect help but not offer it in kind.
    But that just means I'm more selective about who can read my stuff because there is little to be gained from beta-ing with someone who isn't at your "level" (for lack of a better term)
    I also think it's a great way to actually get a bit of a professional relationship with another writer.
     

Share This Page