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  1. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody Contributor Contributor

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    How To Find Beta Readers

    Discussion in 'The Art of Critique' started by J.T. Woody, May 14, 2019.

    I'm getting sick and tired of asking family and friends to be beta readers. The last straw was this past weekend, finishing up my final for this semester.
    I needed someone to proof read the paper. People were unreachable, so I called up and asked my parents. The first thing they always ask (for essays, research papers, fiction, poems, etc.) is "How long is is?"
    This paper was 8 pages (excluding reference page, abstract, appendices, and cover page). The gave me so much grief for having asked to read it that I'm just fed up with it.

    With that being said, I've sent 5 works of fiction out to journals. I'm anxious because I didn't have anyone read it/go over it because, again, I've had no one willing to read my work and offer solid critique other than "oh, it was good."

    -sighs-
    this is part rant, part serious.... how do I find people willing to read my work, no matter the length?
     
  2. Just a cookiemunster

    Just a cookiemunster Active Member

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    Omg this is totally me!!! I cant even get family members to read a few scenes and they swear it's so long. Another thinks reading is torture. I did get one opinion but that's just one. Ugh. I would like to know about these beta readers also.
    Another family member tells me to just write with no other opinions or ideas and publish it as is. :confused: I get so frustrated.
     
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  3. Ma'am

    Ma'am Banned Supporter

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    Critiquing/beta reading takes a lot of time on something they likely have no interest in, even if they do have quite a bit of interest in you. It also gets sticky worrying about hurting your feelings, for friends and family. I think it's usually much better to get- and give- help from other aspiring writers.

    Edited for clarity.
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2019
  4. Reece

    Reece Active Member

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  5. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    You've been around for awhile. I'm sure there are people on this site who would beta read for you. I think it works best to do a trade. Just think about the people you click with on here or post in the section fro seeking beta readers. I would do it, but I just committed to helping someone else out with a lengthier piece. However, feel free to message me in the future if you want. But, really, you're in the right place to find people who will read your work.

    Also, don't worry too much about making submissions that haven't been read by other people. I sold a story for big money that no one had seen. in fact, it might have actually hurt me if I had taken any advice on that one. It wasn't something I felt very confident about so I would have likely made changes that could have prevented me from making the sale.

    Betas can be great, but they're not really needed. I like trading work with some of my friends on here because it's nice to see what they're up to. It's not really about looking for help. It's just something I like doing, especially when I know they're good writers.

    If you really just feel like you need feedback, there is the section of this forum for that.
     
  6. Elven Candy

    Elven Candy Pay no attention to the foot in my mouth Supporter Contributor

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    I found pretty much all my beta readers right here on this forum. What you can do is post under the Collaboration forum requesting beta readers and, if you're willing, don't forget to mention that you're willing to beta read their similar sized work in exchange. You can swap stories with @Just a cookiemunster , for example, assuming you aren't the wrong target audience for each other.

    Good luck!
     
  7. Thundair

    Thundair Contributor Contributor

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    I've used fiver for short stuff
     
  8. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody Contributor Contributor

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    I'm at that point again where I've finished something. 2 people (1 friend and 1 coworker) seemed interested in reading my work and giving me feedback. its been about a week and I haven't heard anything from them. I'm feel like I'd be annoying them or rushing them if I asked after it...
    I dont know if its just me being impatient (i am a very impatient individual in my personal life), and to me, it shouldnt take a week to read 20 pages. Or if thats about right and I just need to wait some more....

    If I post in the workshop section for feedback, wouldnt that hurt my chances of getting it published, since by posting it online, it counts as "published" already? :superfrown:
     
  9. sleepindawg

    sleepindawg Active Member

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    Are you down to SP&G? And how big is the work? I may be able to help with the S and P parts of it, I'm a bit weak on the grammar however, I could try for that as well. The reason that I ask how big is that I have 2 bits of flash fiction that I'm thinking are ready for final polish.

    EDIT: If it's passed back and forth in PMs it isn't published as far as I can figure.
     
  10. Alan Aspie

    Alan Aspie Contributor Contributor

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    Exchange favours.

    You do similar size and same level difficulty favour to someone and he/she does one to you.

    Exchange beta reading. You betaread for other writers, they betaread for you.

    Think: What is it in there for them? What is their benefit? How they profit? What can you do for them?
     
  11. RobinLC

    RobinLC Active Member

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    What kind of fiction is it? I'd be happy to beta read just about anything for the same in return.
     
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  12. AndieBoDandy

    AndieBoDandy Member

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    I'm with Robin... As long as it's not too close to something I'm personally working on. I NEVER ask my family to read my stuff, as I don't think I'll get anything other that, "it's good" from them. Is there perhaps a writers group in your area? If you could find just one or two like-minded individuals, I think that would work best. You need to find people who are into the genre that you write. They'll be familiar with reading it and know how it works. I love contemporary fantasy, space opera, dystopian even horror. So hit me up if its one of those things. (Not that I wouldn't help if it was something else... I need to broaden my horizons. =)
     
  13. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Try the Collaborations section of the forum‚ but...

    make sure you are willing to trade...willing to read and give feedback on THEIR work of similar size, and...

    let the potential readers know what kind of thing you've written. Even posting a paragraph or two can help them decide if it's their thing or not. If people see that it's a subject or genre they like, they like your writing style, and realise it's not chock-full of SPAG errors, they are more likely to take it on.

    You can do the actual exchange via PM here on the forum. OR, if you trust the member enough, you can swap email addresses and do it that way. (Which can solve the formatting problem, which happens when you attempt to copy/paste your own work into the forum. The forum software isn't very user-friendly in that respect ...hence the need to go through and re-paragraph everything, add in italics, bolds, etc.)
     
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  14. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody Contributor Contributor

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    Thanks peoples!
    I've submitted that particular story but I will keep these things in mind for next time. I'm trying to finish at least one thing before the year is over!
    @AndieBoDandy, @RobinLC, @sleepindawg , and @Just a cookiemunster .... I tend to write short works leaning more towards the odd and surreal, somewhat "disturbing" (a word my husband used). Longer works i'd put more in the fantasy/sci fi genre with a sub genres including adventure and/or romance.
    I have one right now that I go to off and on that is none of the genres and themes listed above, and thats currently at 9,987 words - so I'm all over the place in terms of having something close to being done....

    But I wouldnt mind trading. Even if its a page or two of a WIP. I wouldnt mind getting some feedback on WIPs either lol
     
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  15. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    I wouldn't post short stories you're trying to sell in the workshop section. I was talking about the collaboration section where people ask for beta readers and to do trades all the time. Also, since you're a submitter to the journals and magazines, think about joining the little community we've got going in the rejection thread. The regulars often trade work for feedback or are just willing to read when they have time. But, again, I really wouldn't put too much weight into feedback unless you really know where it's coming from (like another writer you admire or a writing mentor). And even then, beta readers aren't editors buying your work. Sure, you can get some good advice and things that need some fixing can be pointed out. But I've gotten feedback that was super off the mark before. You've got to be able to spot that too. Anyway, good luck with all your submissions.
     
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  16. Krispee

    Krispee Contributor Contributor

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    I'm happy to read the odd short story (shorts not novels), although I wouldn't read horror or romance, not my thing. I don't have the time for anything in depth though right now but I can do a read through and give some general thoughts. As deadrats mentions though, other peoples ideas and thoughts are just that - writing is so subjective, but I do understand the need to have someone read a story for the first time.
     
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  17. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    @J.T. Woody -- I would totally take @Krispee up on his offer. He's been a great help giving me feedback in the past. :)
     
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  18. Mckk

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Seems unfair to me that you're annoyed with them when you're the one who needs the favour? "How long is it?" is a perfectly legitimate question. People have busy lives and while they might be able and willing to read 1 page, they might not have the time for 10 pages. Also, just because someone can doesn't mean they have to. Some people hate reading, others love reading but hate proofing/editing (like myself). Still others are just plain busy and have more pressing priorities than your paper.

    If I were to agree to proofing someone's work, "How long is it" would also be my first question. The length of the piece, my personal level of interest, time, content, why the writer asked, all of this factors into whether I say yes or no. If someone asks me to beta read, I always ask only for the first chapter first. I'm unwilling to commit to something that's gonna have me pulling my hair out - it ain't like I'm getting paid for this and it's hours upon hours of work.

    Likewise, I don't get offended if someone says they'll read my book and then doesn't and just forgets about it altogether. My book isn't that important to them - and why should it be? It's a shame for me, of course, but reading is actually a lot of work and proofing/editing even more so.

    Find someone whose interest it is to proof/edit or else make it reciprocal, because if there's nothing in it for the other person, they probably won't do it. If you're asking friends and family, the truth is they're probably saying yes just to be kind, because they love you. Or they don't wanna hurt your feelings so they say yes when they don't mean it. If you realise this is the case, really, just stop asking these people. They love you. They don't love your paper, your book, or whatever you're studying - that would be why you're the one studying it and not them. Let that be enough. I don't expect my family to read my book even for pleasure, let alone actually work to correct it. It's not their interest, and why should I have such expectations that they would anyway?
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2019
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  19. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody Contributor Contributor

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    Understandable and all good points.

    "How long is it" is a reasonable question when coming from people interesting in your work or interesting in your growth.
    "How long is it" is an irritation and disheartening when coming from people who see your askance as an annoyance or an inconvenience or that your art is not a legitimate reason to take time away from something else.

    My brother is a musician and got his degree in music performance. I got my first degree in English Literature. Both of our degrees should have been "hobbies" and have only been supported as such: a hobby, like writing in a diary or a journal.
    I've never had a support system when it came to my writing. So naturally i'd get fed up with the constant shut down in my personal life whenever i bring up my writing and the possibility of having someone read it.

    Which is how I ended up on Writing Forum a year ago.
     
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  20. Mckk

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Aha, yes that context does make it more disheartening and hurtful. But in that case, aren't you just asking for more pain when you ask them for help with your writing? Like... why would you ask them in the first place? You're on a writing forum - I'm sure you've befriended a few folks on here. Ask them. Or go to the collaboration subforum and ask there.

    Perhaps what you need to do is stop expecting them to be interested in your writing. They think it should remain a hobby. You disagree (I disagree too). But you don't have to agree, you know? Because hopefully, if you have good relationships with each other, then you connect in other ways. And if you don't have good relationships, then your problem runs far, far deeper than getting some help with proofreading your work, and that is not a topic on which I can give advice .

    My family also think writing should be a hobby. My mum always told me I was too "emotional" and too caught up with the idea that I have to do what I enjoy/love. When I was 12 or 13, I wrote something and asked my dad to read it and he said, "Don't waste my time." I'm still writing, of course, but I never asked again. But, to their credit, when I self-published my book (actually one that I'm thinking of taking down), my dad bought it from Amazon with his money, without me ever asking, and he read it cover to cover. He never made any comments about it, but I know he read it. My mum tried but didn't make it past page 1, but she left me a review saying "It's a very good book!" I didn't ask for that (and she shouldn't have done that without having read the book, but it's not like my mum truly understands what self-publishing is) Sometimes, they ask, "Are you still writing? Why don't you write something?"

    So I guess I'm speaking from that experience. It's what I mean by "You don't have to agree" because hopefully you connect in other ways. I get where my parents are coming from - their opinion is shaped by their culture and upbringing, by the dire poverty from which they grew and struggled out of in order to put me and my sister through university. In order to emigrate to a whole new country just to give us a better future than they had. My mum didn't used to have money for lunch and my dad would buy these meal deal thing where he got an extra portion of rice and he'd share with my mum (and then later, once they started dating, my mum discovered from dad's sister that dad went home everyday and raided the fridge because he was so hungry lol). Before I was born, my dad held down 2 jobs plus he was studying to become an accountant, plus they already had my older sister. Mum tells me their "time together" consisted of her sitting in silence beside him on a park bench while he poured over books. Now they have a house and two cars and lead a very comfortable life. But once upon a time they sold their wedding rings for money. So, from that background, you know. I don't get it, not really, but I get it, if you know what I mean. They fought to give me a life where I can sit in comfort pondering "Hmm what kind of job would I enjoy?" but now they don't understand why enjoyment for me is such a priority, because they came from different life circumstances - circumstances I'll never have to live thanks to the choices that they made.

    So, do I have some grievances regarding the lack of support for my art and writing? Yeah, a bit. But we love each other, so it's ok for me.

    You'll have to work out for yourself if your issue with your family is larger, deeper than your writing. Are they aware that you feel a lack of support?
     
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  21. Krispee

    Krispee Contributor Contributor

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    1st degree? Well you have certainly done well with your time, you have the technical background at least. Not sure about the hobbies thing though as I see a hobbyist writer as someone who actually practices writing stories, of whatever length, not diary writers (not that that isn't another form of writing). It is true the arts are a difficult area to make a living from. I've been involved with the arts for most of my life, and although I have earned some money from it it's a hard thing to do for a living (it also depends on your background and how you started). I myself am a "hobbyist" writer, writing only in my spare time and writing short stories I am now considering as worthy of submitting to magazines.
    Sorry to hear of your problems getting beta readers, although my view is that whenever I ask for such I am aware I am asking people to give up their precious time to help me. I think that's where the trade aspect comes in. If you are willing to read for someone else in return for their reading yours at least you will get a read through.
     
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