1. 33percent

    33percent Member

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    How do you send your work to beta readers?

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by 33percent, Apr 12, 2017.

    I have a few friends that are willing to read a few of my chapters to see if the first five pages draws them in as a hook. Did my first few chapters pass go on my plot making any sense. Would like some feedback on their perspective. At the same time how do I copyright my work for protection and have them sign a disclosure agreement? Not only for beta readers but agents, publishers etc. I recently had a other thread about finishing my 2nd draft which is a mile stone for me, having completed over 196k words. Now I'm starting the 3rd draft, smoothing it out.

    I read authors spend over $2k-4k to publish their book is that true? I talked to my friend, basically said finish the book best you can, but when the final draft is complete and send it to a publisher they would edit or tweak it for marketing purposes. I don't even know where to begin to find a agent even when I do finish my final draft for my book.
     
  2. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    They're your friends! Are you really considering making your friends sign something to say they won't steal your work? You have weird friendships!

    You already own the copyright to your work. You can pay to register that copyright, but that won't stop someone stealing it; it just makes it easier for you to sue if they do... but most of us don't have enough money to pursue a lawsuit for that. Even publishers rarely bother. The only real thing we can do is be careful who we send our work to.

    No reputable agent or publisher is going to steal your work. You solve this problem by only submitting to reputable agents and publishers.

    Don't put a copyright symbol on your work before sending it, and definitely do not ask them to sign anything. It's the mark of an amateur.

    If you get an agent and/or a traditional publisher, the cost to you is $0. The agent and publisher take all the risk for the time and money they spend on your book.

    If you self-publish, it can be free or it can be as expensive as you're willing to make it. To get anybody to buy your book you'll at least need to pay for a decent cover, and probably a professional editor as well - most self-published books are littered with errors.

    Here's an excellent overview of the process from a published author: https://www.writingforums.org/threads/so-you-wrote-a-novel-and-want-to-get-it-published.148510/

    But seriously... don't ask your friends to sign anything. Don't even tell them not to steal your work. They're your friends.
     
  3. jannert

    jannert Member Supporter Contributor

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    If you're truly worried about people stealing your work (or it falling into the 'wrong' hands) you can safeguard it to a large extent by simply sending an attachment, containing the work (and maybe notes for the work and prior versions) in an email to yourself. The email will be date-stamped. The thief will not have this kind of backup, because they only received it from you on the date you sent it. If you have prior date-stamped email that proves you had the story's draft first, I reckon that's enough.

    (It also functions as an extra backup copy that's not connected to your computer system, as long as you use a web-based email service.)

    But I'm with @Tenderiser on this one. Why would you send it out to people you think might steal it? And really ...nobody is going to steal it at this stage anyway. Worry about later, after you've become a multi-millionaire writer like JK Rowling. Then be prepared to defend yourself when some greedy chancer says you stole THEIR idea. Having the date-stamped email might help you win that one, as well.

    As for how to get published? The first thing you need to do is finish a final draft of your book—all the way to the end. And edit it. Get more people to read it and give feedback. And edit again. And again. And polish it and proofread it, making absolutely sure it's free of errors, and could go straight to the printers as is. THEN start looking for agents.

    Don't rush off to publication with a half-baked product. It won't get an agent, it won't get traditionally published, and if you self-publish a substandard product, you'll have created a bad reputation for yourself.

    Take care. Take your time. And good luck! You've finished a first and second draft, so you must feel pretty happy about that. It's a lot farther than many people get.

    Do be aware, though, that a book of 192,000 words is going to be difficult to sell as a first-time author in today's market. It's a factor that bothers me a lot—as I not only have written a long novel, but I enjoy reading them—and is one of the reasons I'm going for self-publishing. I believe the current 'top' word count that agents will take is something like 100,000 words—slightly more for fantasy, to around 120,000 words—and anything more is likely to be instantly rejected before an agent even reads a word of your story. That can change, although the count requirement seems to be going down these days, not going up. 85,000 to 90,000 words is considered to be the ideal, as far as I know.
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2017
  4. Shadowfax

    Shadowfax Contributor Contributor

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    Which rather underlines @jannert 's point about checking, checking and re-checking...

    (runs and hides)
     
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  5. jannert

    jannert Member Supporter Contributor

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    :oops::oops::oops: smart arse....! :)
     
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  6. BayView

    BayView Contributor Contributor

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    If someone sent me something to beta read and included any sort of non-disclosure agreement, I'd send the work back without even glancing at it. It's an insult to suggest that someone would steal your work, especially considering that it's still only half-baked. Beta readers are doing you a favour - don't insult them.

    In terms of publishers/agents... When you drop your car off at the garage or at valet parking, do you insist that the staff sign an agreement stating that they won't steal your car, or do you trust in their professionalism? Don't send your car to someone who doesn't seem professional, and don't send your manuscript to someone who doesn't seem professional. That takes care of it.
     
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  7. Lew

    Lew Contributor Contributor

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    @jannert helped me immensely in my road to self publication, and even found more typos in my first release. (Easily fixed by print on demand). I faced the same problem as you, my work was 240K words, even longer than yours, and just too long for a first time author to get traditionally published. You can, but it is a real crap shoot. I can't echo @jannert enough on editing. Your goal is perfection, not just good enough. As one author told me, "Edit until you can stand to look at it again, then edit some more." I finished mine in Oct 2015, engaged a professional editor, engaged a bunch of beta readers, in addition to those who had followed me chapter by chapter through my first draft, made 7 revisions, then finally launched on Feb 3 of this year.

    I can't say thank you often enough to the people who helped me on this site, I got a lot of good guidance on the craft, especially important to my as I never took a creative writing class in my life. Things like POV, character arcs, plots, subplots and plot holes were foreign gibberish to me when I started. And I had many concerns like you did about protecting my work, till I learned that for what most of us will make from writing, stealing a half-empty box of matches makes more sense.

    So good luck, we're here to help!
     
  8. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll I can't paws right now, stuff to do. Contributor

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    Well since I don't know anyone locally, I use the collab to find betas.
    I would try somewhere else, but I feel comfortable with the community.

    Also who makes some one sign a nondisclosure? If you are doing that
    the you are really paranoid or just don't trust anyone. The majority
    of people are not going to steal your work, they just want to be helpful.

    You can search for agents by genres to narrow the field to where the best
    fit for your book should be set of to.

    So good luck, and have a little more faith in people.
     
  9. big soft moose

    big soft moose All killer, no filler. Contributor Community Volunteer

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    I generally wrap it round a brick and throw it through their front windows late at night, with "critique this or else" scrawled on it in blood....
     
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  10. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll I can't paws right now, stuff to do. Contributor

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    Now I feel as though I should have told him, that I often threaten to download the souls of my betas on the interwebz. :p
     
  11. 33percent

    33percent Member

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    Thank you for all the awesome feedback, as for sending it to beta readers. All my life, I always take the notion of learning from bad experiences(I have been scammed out a couple grand before) I trust but verify or better than feeling sorry. My friends were even cool signing a disclosure agreement, it is nothing personal or to insult anyone of that nature. Only beta reader has been my cousin so far, all he did was grill me on my grammar than the story(even after I told him it's just a draft). I just don't want to regret later on down the road for writing this for almost a decade to be pissed away. So emailing it to myself to be "date-stamped" will be good for legal purposes?

    My book is a Sci-Fi/Adventure/Thriller story, the books I normally read. I know the 2nd draft is just beginning of even more longer journey now just finishing and polishing it. I know end of the day, it's the market that determines your success. I know average readers would enjoy a normal size book. So basically I wrote two of my books already? If I do split the book in half, the ending would be more the middle and cliff hanger than anything. It would be like a sopranos ending. I don't know if that will make fans either eager to buy the second book or just be agitated. Just getting to the middle as my ending would be a 131k count, which seems still a bit too high.
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2017
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  12. Shadowfax

    Shadowfax Contributor Contributor

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    There's your trouble.

    If you post something on the workshop with a preface saying "It's only a draft, so don't worry about the grammar and stuff" I probably won't even read it, let alone critique it.

    If the "grammar and stuff" is THAT bad, I'm not reading YOUR work, I'm reading something that's basically in a foreign language that's similar enough to English for me to work out what I THINK you're saying, translate it into English, and only then can I critique the plot, characterization and so on. A few years ago I tried "reading" a novel in French (very much a second language) and I had to look up a word in the dictionary practically every sentence. I couldn't really tell you much about the plot of that novel; I was too busy translating.

    The point about a beta reader is to read something that you think is publisher-ready, and tell you where it isn't.
     
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  13. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Unworthy in the eyes of the LORD Contributor

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    If I can piggyback onto this question (with the question that I thought was being asked), what is the preferred format for sending work for betas? I've done very little, either way, and I've a couple things sent as .pdf files, and a couple sent as word processor (.doc, .txt etc) files. I can see that pdf files reflect better the way things would appear on a page (or kindle), but the word processor files allow the beta reader to make notes directly on the "page", as one would have with a manuscript. Is there a generally preferred style, or should you ask your beta readers which they'd prefer (or request if you are betaing for someone)?
     
  14. big soft moose

    big soft moose All killer, no filler. Contributor Community Volunteer

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    personally as an alpha or beta I like to have it as a PDF so i can use the sticky notes function in acrobat to add crit where required

    The trouble with .doc is that it depends on the audience running woindows and MS office ... I'm running open office and although it will open a word file it screws up the formatting
     
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  15. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Unworthy in the eyes of the LORD Contributor

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    I did not know that function existed. I thought Acrobat was like the human appendix, mostly good for breaking down and ruining your day. I'll have to look into this further, thanks.
     
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  16. TWErvin2

    TWErvin2 Contributor Contributor

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    First, if you're sending a draft to beta readers with a lot of typos and grammar concerns, that's what's going to stick out to them most, and that's what they're most likely to comment on. Send beta readers a well-proofed version, so that they can focus on story, characters, dialogue, pacing, things like that. Consider sending a simple questionnaire along with the work to beta readers, which might prompt them what you hope they'll pay attention to. However, in my experience, each beta reader will probably focus on different areas, which is often positive.

    In general, just splitting a large book in half to create two 'reasonable sized' books, isn't going to be beneficial. Most stories have an overall arc, and I suspect the larger one does. Just stopping in the middle, with a cliffhanger? While that may work in TV dramas, not so often with novels. Books, even part of a series, have an overall story arc, so that a reader has the feeling of a completed storyline, even though there may be questions or conflicts unresolved. Yes, there are exceptions. There are also exceptions with first novels near 200,000 words finding an agent/publisher, but that adds an additional major hurdle to an already difficult course to run.
     
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  17. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

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    This sort of thing comes up from time to time regularly and I'm always surprised when writers assume that everyone is out to steal their unpublished work. It just seems like something that would be extremely rare and not really something I'd waste my time worrying about.

    I'm way more concerned about someone pirating my published works - I hear about that way more often. Luckily I've not yet been targeted, but @BayView and several other romance writers I know have.
     
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  18. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    I always ask for manuscripts in a format compatible with MS Word. I like the in-line comments feature in Word, and if the author wants to be published they have to get used to it too.

    Google docs is fine, but I had some bad experiences with it (comments disappearing etc) so I'm wary.
     
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  19. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Unfortunately not. :( I believed it for a long time but it seems to be a widespread myth. You can read more if you Google 'Poor man's copyright'.

    The problem is that proving you own the copyright isn't the problem. The problem is that if the worst (and very unlikely) scenario happened and your work was stolen, pursuing a legal case would probably be beyond your means. It'd certainly be beyond mine, and I'm a higher earner. It's important to realise just how unlikely it is for your unpublished manuscript to be stolen, and to accept that you only control you have is deciding who to share it with.

    For me, the benefits of getting feedback outweigh the minuscule chance of somebody stealing my manuscripts. I've sent mine to many people on this forum and elsewhere, and I would never ask them to sign anything or even bring up the idea of them stealing the manuscript. Likewise, I've been sent dozens and dozens of unpublished manuscripts to beta read. If any of those people had brought up copyright I would, like @BayView, have sent them back unread. It's an insult to somebody who's donating hours of their life (it takes me around 10 hours, minimum, to read and give feedback) for free to help you.

    120k is a safer number for a first-time work. Cliffhanger endings are... controversial. I personally wouldn't write one because they annoy me as a reader, but there are successful cliffhanger books. The safest way to go for an unpublished author is to write a book that can standalone, but can also be published as a duology/trilogy/whatever. Could you wrap up enough of the plot in Book 1 that it could be considered a full story on its own?
     
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  20. BayView

    BayView Contributor Contributor

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    I send and expect in Word.
     
  21. zoupskim

    zoupskim Contributor Contributor

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    I tear a rift in the warp of time and space and reality and hate, and send a massive cathedral ship, thick with chapter surfs and relics, bearing my holy work aloft on wings of holy SPACE FIRE!!!

    Private message, and I send in PDF
     
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  22. nippy818

    nippy818 Active Member

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    I copy and paste my work into google drive and share it there. that way my betas can read, comment and make some grammar changes. it time stamps it to protect it, and its super organized. plus i get live feedback as it emails me every time comments are made
     
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  23. 33percent

    33percent Member

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    At this point it's becoming more discouraging, let alone finishing it. My focus isn't entirely on grammar, but rather the story and characters itself. It's like detailing a car without a engine or wheels. I've been writing my whole story on Word Document. I'm already trimming the fat in the 3rd draft, taking out stuff that is not necessary. If you want to judge my grammar I guess, it's the same as me posting threads on this forum. It's just not 'Nazi Grammar' perfect but I've had others read it just fine just critiquing me on grammar there and there. Last five years, I've been in the army consuming 90% of my time, but did manage take a writing college class. Instead of learning more on grammar, I was writing essay's. @nippy818 how do you use google drive for beta readers to read your work? @zoupskim sounds like warhammer 40k lol.

    @Tenderiser The story I have right now without splitting is more of a standalone book but can expand into writing more books to add to the trilogy if need be. I'll just be happy at this point me publishing the book. I would enjoy having beta readers to give me a real critique on my story instead of my perspective, but should I pay a editor to correct/polish my grammar?
     
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  24. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Depends. If you're going to self-publish then your choice is to pay your own editor, or publish a book with errors. Plenty of self-publishers do the latter (which is one of the reasons I don't buy them). Actually there is a third option; to get somebody you know to proofread it for free. But unless they're a professional editor, they're going to miss things.

    If you're going traditional then the publisher will edit the book at their own cost. Too many mistakes might prevent you getting a publisher, but judging by your forum posts I don't think your manuscript will be that bad if you do your best at self-editing first.
     
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  25. nippy818

    nippy818 Active Member

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    When i use google drive i create a folder and share that folder with a beta reader using their gmail address. inside that folder I will create a new doc and copy and paste one chapter per doc. that way its broken up for them to read. I also leave the option on for them to edit so they can highlight and comment on specific sentences, paragraphs or what have you and ive me advice. Generally I make it very clear to my betas that i have a professional editor i use and that i need story, plot and plot hole help. if they cant deliver, I just find a new one. A few of my betas i meet with weekly to go over plots outlines and such. we have a small critique group and all understand one another's strengths and weaknesses.
     

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