When the time is ripe to test drive your novel either by Alpha or Beta reading, do you leave a note to the reader about what kind of feedback you are mostly interested in receiving, beforehand? If yes, then what questions do you pose? Is it needed to leave some sort of manual to the reader or is it better to skip it completely and let them decide what they spotted without your direction? Perhaps let them read your novel and pose your questions afterwards? Which way is more efficient from your P.O.V.? When you have a specific part in your story you are unsure of, do you point it out or let it be? Finally, when you are alpha or beta reading, what are the things you focus in and how do you proceed on bringing them about? Do you go as far as proofreading? Maybe if you get really invested in a story you might walk that extra mile and your critiquing depth varies depending on your level of satisfaction? Do you try to stay consistent upon your method? I mean, it's much more time consuming to review and analyse a whole novel than a few chapters. Do you hand in the whole finished product of your labour, or do you find it more efficient to exchange with your readers every once in a while a few chapters when they are finished with some sort (flexible but not to the point of complete inconsistency) of time schedule? Is this considered alpha reading? How many alpha or beta readers do you think it's preferable to have. Is there a minimum or a maximum? Do you categorize your reader helpers and the dynamic between conflicting feedback, considering whether they are writers or consistent readers themselves? I'd like to have your personal opinions and methods upon these matters. Feel free to add anything of interest I might have skipped, but please try to explain your stand so I can understand why you choose what you choose. That's why I'm not making a poll out of this. I care for quality rather than quantity. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Now, as for my part. I tried a couple of different approaches which changed throughout the years, as I'm still studying and learning from my experiences. In the beginning, I would simply ask: "Did you like it?" and leave the rest to the reader's' perspective. Mostly because I didn't know what to ask exactly. I was still a complete novice. Then I started setting specific questions beforehand, since I didn't feel like the feedback I was receiving was complete. The more I studied and learned about structure, pacing, etc, the more I would care to know about these things. Problem with that was that my readers were not into writing themselves and would find it kind of hard to focus in things such as these. So, I subscribed here! Lately, I've been starting to think again that it's better to just hand in my writing without making questions and maybe this way I'll have a better chance of spotting and evaluating myself whether a reader is a keeper or not. Furthermore, maybe it's best to keep the reader's perspective unaffected from my questions, so they can focus freely and more sincerely on what they normally do. If I see that a reader is really into analysing my writing into bits and pieces (which I love), then I might also go ahead with any extra questions I might have (since their feedback is so damn good)! Another observation I made is that consistent readers, in comparison to writers, might lack basic structural knowledge but for some reason they spot emotional impact more intensely and are more eager to analyse it, which is of great importance to me at least. For example, they won't spot if I hammer onto something but if my scene lacks emotional impact, they will very much disapprove of it, since the scene comes off as too dry. Sometimes they might even propose very interesting plot devices if they come up with an idea that are very refreshing. So, I value both writers and no-writers readers the same for different reasons. I haven't had many instances of alpha or beta reading though, since I haven't yet completed a novel. So far I've been sending chapter one's and two's (Once, I've sent a whole six chapters)! It's hard for me to remain faithful to a story, although I never quit them. I binge write a lot, although I'm trying to contain myself lately and I think that it's working (due to limited time though; get's you into perspective). When I alpha read: So far it has been short stories and from-chapter-to-chapter reading and reviewing. I've never tried reviewing a whole novel at once. I prefer being given questions beforehand, rather than after, to be honest. It's not that I mind being asked later on, I just prefer having a direction as to what the writer might be needing, so when I read for the first time or the second one, I will already know where to focus at, especially when it comes to content. (Ex: Does this scene clarify the relation between A and B? Is it too melodramatic)? I tend to spot structural (pacing, flow, voice, flashback usage, plot holes, coherency, themes, dialogue, realism), emotional impact (conflict, desire, relationship dynamics, character inner structure and likeness) and although I don't delve so much into it, grammar and vocabulary. (Something must be really standing out in order to go to such lengths. If the writer clearly lacks this skill, then I might correct some lines and then tell the writer that he should edit carefully with someone of a more specialised skill set, since I'm not one to count on. Even if the extract is in greek where I am pretty confident upon correcting, it's just too time consuming to correct a whole chapter, which triggers my o.c.d., furthermore the upcoming chapters and turns me off). Although some writings might be much more demanding, might I go as far as to say more tiresome than others, I always try to give it my all, while remaining diplomatically polite, since as a writer I damn well know my own vices and expectations. When someone's hard labor is entrusted to me, I tend to take it personally. I prefer to write an apology to the writer for taking too much time to review, than send a telegram of a review due to lack of time or laziness. It's disrespectful. Although, I think at least that I try to dive deep and give a useful feedback, some of my reviews seem to have put some writers off. Not that I mind so much though, but after spending hours and hours upon reviewing and analysing an extract, it's the most basic courtesy I think to at least say, "thank you for your time". Anyhow, I don't mean to rant. I send back a .docx file with highlighted notes and explain why I highlighted this or that, and sometimes offer an idea of improving it, without messing with the core plot or the scene's drive (except if it's completely missing). I might offer ideas on how to improve something but I also note, that my idea should only be considered as an example. Use it as you will of course, but it's not meant to imply that I'm driving your story. For example, if you skip a major fighting scene completely and then go on and describe its' outcome, through a poem an old, wise man - that came from literally nowhere - says, I'll state the obvious: Wtf? Who's he? DELETE HIM NOW! Poem? You lazy bum. Write the damn scene! It's the promise you've made to the reader from word one! (But politely, of course. True story). I think this sums it up from my part.