How do you send your work to beta readers?

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

  1. TyrannusRex

    TyrannusRex Active Member

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    I'm just having a group of close friends read it for me. They know not to tell anyone, mostly because the story is more or less written for me and them. I printed off the first chapter, asked if they were interested; getting an enthusiastic response, I began emailing them chapters for review as I wrote them.
     
  2. B93

    B93 Active Member

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    Quite possible for self-publishing if one tries to make a first-class product. Cover art is important (even as an illustration for selling ebooks) and can be expensive. Professional editing is expensive. And if you are self-publishing, save some $ for promotion.

    If you can get traditionally published, you don't have most of those costs, but hiring an editor before you submit to the agent/publisher may improve your chances.

    Each book must stand alone with its own story. Concentrate on telling a good story with a satisfactory ending in 100k words.

    If two or more books involve the same characters and/or setting, then they can make a fine series. But I would be angry to find a cliffhanger at the end of a book. Cliffhangers are for chapter endings, only.

    Most friends, unless they are language teachers or writers themselves, will just tell you they really liked it. It is rare for casual readers among friends and family to provide much help in plot, character development, or editing.
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    As to how to deliver it to readers, ask them what they are comfortable with. I would read someone's paper copy, Word file, or PDF (and have done so), but would refuse to deal with Google Docs or other cloud systems, which I find too clumsy.
     
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  3. big soft moose

    big soft moose Contributing Member

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    since the advent of print on demand publishing like createspace and ingram spark the cost of self pub has come down, but as B93 rightly points out there is still a cost to cover art and editing services - and while you can do them yourself to save cash can doesnt mean should
     
  4. Lew

    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    $2 to $4K is probably a good estimate, if you are seriously going to launch a quality finished product and reach readers outside your immediate circle of friends. I am in that range for "The Eagle and the Dragon," with a professional editor, a good cover, and various organizations that I have joined, writers' conferences attended, hotels and meals at book fairs, promotional schemes and scams, and so forth. The small things add up fast. Fortunately I can afford it, accepted that I would have to prime the pump, and am started to see spontaneous sales showing up.

    Having said this, do NOT repeat do NOT deal with any publisher who will publish your book for just $2 to $4K and do all the marketing for you while you sit back and cash the royalty checks. Publishers who charge you up front to publish do not even deserve an answer, and rarely deliver.

    And yes, size matters, and splitting a book can be a real challenge for all the reasons @TWErvin2 gave. E&D was 240K words, and I had exactly the problem he cited... how to end book 1 so it stood alone, and start book 2 with my rather large cast of characters and subplots without beginning with a boring synopsis of book 1. So I decided to leave it intact and self-pub, and it typeset at a respectable 550 pages.
     
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  5. jannert

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    The date-stamping is proof that you sent it to yourself on that date, not proof that you wrote it. What would be helpful to prove you're the writer is to include earlier drafts, notes, etc in your email attachment, so it's obvious you've been working on it for some time. But again, I really wouldn't worry. Nobody is going to steal your work. Really. They're not.

    I noticed you mentioned a beta (cousin) who didn't do anything but critique your grammar, etc. You seemed slightly put out by that, but you shouldn't be.

    If your grammar isn't up to scratch, it doesn't matter how good your story is—the story won't get conveyed to the reader. Grammar isn't something you 'clean up later.' Grammar is something you get right all along. Grammar is a basic when it comes to writing.

    If you let slip an occasional typo (like one or two per chapter!), it's probably forgivable and overlookable. But that doesn't excuse it either. Don't send out something that's a grammatical dog's breakfast (I'm not saying yours was, BTW ...just a general piece of advice) and expect your beta readers to simply ignore the mistakes and focus on your story. It's like hitting dozens of wrong notes when you're playing a tune on the violin, and expecting your audience to enjoy the tune anyway. They won't.

    I'd say NEVER give something to a beta reader that isn't the best you can make it. Then take their suggestions on board, and make it even better before you give it to the next beta. Rinse and repeat.
     
  6. jannert

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I know I prefer to receive stuff to beta-read in wordprocessing format. Makes it much easier to give feedback.
     
  7. Lew

    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    I only had a handful of beta readers doing my first draft as it was written chapter by chapter, and those chapters didn't get released to them until they had passed muster of my eagle-eyed wife @K McIntyre , who can tell the difference between a comma and a period at 100 yards. She also insists that there should be at least two periods in every ten lines of text.
     
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  8. 33percent

    33percent Member

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    I was aiming for a standalone book which is the story I do have, but I didn't expect myself to write almost 200k words. The LOTR fellowship of the ring is 178k words which I do find motivating I can still publish a book with that size. I want to go traditional publishing route it's going to be tough sell to just because the word count is over 100k. I do think the google drive is a great idea, for now I'm going to share it to my close friends. Majority of the book is a mixture of suspense/thriller and drama. I have a other idea that could possibly make into a 100k, but I will be writing a extended story what I have now. In my 3rd draft, I am trimming the fat of unnecessary stuff. All I can is my grammar has improved but it's not like perfect, but I do need to work on dialogue in my book.
     
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  9. Christopher Bliss

    Christopher Bliss New Member

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    Have you tried putting your books in beta bookshops?
     
  10. 33percent

    33percent Member

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    What is a beta bookshop?
     
  11. big soft moose

    big soft moose Contributing Member

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    its a site full of work looking to be beta read I think ... it doesn't appeal to me either as a writer or a reader
     
  12. joe sixpak

    joe sixpak Banned

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    True self publishing is from free to a couple thousand dollars.
    Vanity publishing is from 'cheap' to 20,000usd and up.
    The cost depends how much you diy and how many useless 'services' you buy.
    I would budget $600 and expect to hit that target.

    You need to send the best mss you can. Many trad pubs do not do any real editing any longer.
    And do check out WM for how to package your book proposal in general. And read the target's website for specifics they want.

    Your work is copyrighted the moment you fixed it in a medium. You could register it at LOC if you are afraid of theft. Note you can't copyright ideas only the expression.

    Do you really think beta readers are looking to steal your work?
    Hire an editor to do the job and sign agreements if that makes you feel comfortable.
    I would suspect that it is hard enough to get beta readers without the hurdle of asking for legal forms being signed.
     
  13. Christopher Bliss

    Christopher Bliss New Member

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    It's just a normal bookshop, but in a beta village.
     
  14. socialleper

    socialleper Member

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    I hear this a lot, but I really think the genre of the manuscript matters. Fantasy readers will stomach epic length books without a second thought. The major publishing debuts of Pat Rothfuss and Jacqueline Carey were well over 200k words. Of course, for every one of those that gets published a thousand ended up in the recycling bin, but that is how it works regardless of length.
    Non-fiction readers that are buying books on history don't really worry about word count either.
    If a person tried to write a 200k word romance novel or mystery, it would be suicide.
    Personally, I despise the 90,000 novel format. I can read a 300 page novel in a weekend, and it still cost me $9.99 on my Kindle. For the same price, I'd rather get a bigger book.
     
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  15. socialleper

    socialleper Member

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    I could see it being possible. A manuscript I wrote is around 250k pages. I enjoyed the effort, and think I have something pretty good, but regretted it when I found out what editor and beta fees can be. They charge a few pennies a word, but when you have that many words, it adds up. Considering the number of simple errors that were being found after I went through it twice, and two other people went through it, I wouldn't dare self publish without a proper editor.
    Then there is cover art if you self publish. Finally, if you want hard copies of your self published book, that will cost you.
    If you get a publisher, a lot of this is done by them, but getting there isn't always easy. I've heard of some people getting conned by agents or publishers that charge fees to review or consider your work.
     
  16. jannert

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    My philosophy as well. Unfortunately the low count does seem to apply to first-time authors—although once they are proven successes, it seems they can get away with bigger books.

    I suppose I can understand the publisher's viewpoint, that it costs more to market a bigger book by an unknown author. But I do dislike the 90,000 word format as a reader as well as my own writing—in general, anyway. I like to settle in for a good long read.

    Thank goodness so many options for self-publishing now exist, that don't cost the writer an arm and a leg to use. It's up to us, as writers, to see if we can raise the quality of self-pubbed 'long books' as high as we possibly can.

    It's a relatively new phenomenon, and I think it will take a while to settle.
     
  17. Lew

    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    You are in almost identical a situation to where I was. "The Eagle and the Dragon" was 240K, and I had it professionally edited, as well as about 30-40 beta readers. And we still were finding typos even after publication (fortunately easy to fix for print on demand, just upload the new file) The editor was my most expensive proposition.

    For cover art, I recommend Fiona Jayde of FionaJaydeMedia.com. You can see a sample of her work on E&D on this site under Member Publications... I have had huge compliments on her work, and her price and turnaround times are very reasonable. (as opposed to graciously accepted boos and hisses on my homemade cover on this site in December, thanks @big soft moose and others for steering me clear of that shoal water!)

    Stay away from any agent or publisher that wants you to pay them. I have seen some of their work, and all they do is take your money, and print your book. No real marketing. And smaller house publishers often don't do much marketing, either, due to their low budget.

    As to cost of your own books, CreateSpace allows you to buy as many copies of your book as you want at production cost plus shipping. E&D retails for $14.99 but I can buy it for a$7.50+about $1.50 for shipping (depends on how many, cheaper for more). And you can ship them to another location. I will be doing a presentation and booksigning at the Historical Writers of America meeting in Albuquerque, and will just ship 32 copies (two boxes) to there, rather than pay on overweight fee on the flight.

    And you can sell as a self-pubbie, but plan on spending some money on marketing, and it will be a while before you net any money. Don't quit your day job yet!
     
  18. socialleper

    socialleper Member

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    Let's face facts here: what sort of "marketing" does anyone really do for books anymore? I can't think of the last time I saw a book advertised anywhere. Nearly all of my reading selections come from recommendations or online research.

    As I pointed out, self publishing isn't easy. If you have to hire an editor, for an epic length book, you are looking at possibly thousands of dollars. Then you need to purchase cover art, or possibly a graphics designer. In some ways, it sounds like self publishing can be a money pit since you might spend more than you will ever get back. It is a little like being a musician- you can do it yourself these days, but so can everyone else. Now you are a needle in a haystack of needles.
     
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  19. Lew

    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    See my thread "Boosted facebook posts" on the marketing tab under publishing for what seems to be a cost effective way to get the word out.
     
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  20. Mr Cookie

    Mr Cookie Member

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    Depends on genre. Books are one of the most commonly advertised things on the London Underground. There's posters everywhere. But that tends to be literary genre, or a variety of thrillers. I've never seen fantasy or sci-fi there.

    Similarly, book shops and many supermarkets have prominent stands in eye-catching positions, and I'm sure they're not assigned on a lottery.
     
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  21. Lew

    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    @socialleper , we sure don't to be discouraging you, since are 95% there, having finished a very big, and probably very good, novel. Otherwise, you wouldn't have stayed with it.

    It is important that your book be professionally edited, whether you go trad or indie, but that doesn't mean you have to pay professional prices. And since I have a book of your size, I know that the figure of $1500-$2500 probably took your breath away, guessing at what you may have been quoted. However, consider getting a high school or community college to edit this for ten cents on that price. A nice little chuck of change for them, and a chance to maybe pick up more work. Also consider beta readers here on this site, many of whom will do it for free, and have some knowledge of writing... I have had several, some of my best in fact. I would volunteer myself, but right now I am maxed out. But I will keep you in mind.

    As to marketing, again, you'll learn that, also. To me, marketing was always a dirty word: I joined the Navy fifty years ago, and ultimately became a naval aviator (AKA a nasal radiator) because I did NOT want to sell cars or anything else for a living. But in that line of work, I found I also had to sell my ideas, if I wanted to see them come about.

    Like you, I had a great deal of trepidation when my first book went on-line last December, and I asked myself what next? How do I make it sell? @jannert might relate the time I messaged her in mid-January, convinced I was failure because my little "Come, Follow Me" had only sold a handful of copies. And that same day, I got a good review, and a few more sales, so I got over it. So hang in there... we will get you through this, whichever way you want to go. And whether we, you and I, ever get enough money to buy that Ferrari, we will tell our story to people that will want to hear it. And that, for me, is a damned fine reward.
     
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  22. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale "Cue the artillery" Contributor

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    When I first arrived in Japan, I was starved for reading material. Pre-Kindle days, and dead tree books in English were hideously expensive here (at home, a standard paperback was running about 7 bucks): everything in English was $15.

    Everything. No matter how long or short.

    So I bought Moby Dick. I hadn't read it before, and I figured that it would keep me occupied for a while. It did, and then I ended up re-reading it four or five times in the next couple years. Wonderful book, always good for another go, but I bought it based simply on the weight.
     
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  23. 33percent

    33percent Member

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    Now, I'm thinking on extending one portion as my stand alone book but having it under 100k, to keep it simple. Then take what I have written like the almost 200k as a sequel. It's like it never ends if I want it published I have to keep it around 100k. I realized the one of the best selling books are kinda written on a 8th grade reading level, but around 100k. I got two of my friends on the beta reading level even then their so busy with life and work they can only read it there and there.
     
  24. big soft moose

    big soft moose Contributing Member

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    Of course if you self pub the whole word limit thing goes out the window ... the only question then is will people read it.... and that depends much more on quality than length
     
  25. BayView

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you're paying for your own editing, the length is still really important.

    Less importantly, if you decide to do print versions they cost more for longer books and you could price yourself out of the market, but unless you're hand-selling you probably don't need to worry too much about print versions anyway.
     

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