Beta Reader Group discussion

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Writing Advice & Discussion > why ask for a beta reader

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message 1: by Janet (new)

Janet Piper | 24 comments Someone asked for a beta reader on a historical, so I asked if she wanted to trade. She said yes and we did so. I liked the story, but noticed a couple run on sentences. No big deal, everyone does it. I marked them and sent it back, thinking that's what I was supposed to do. The person was greatly offended and told me to look at the book being sold on Amazon with 5 stars from these brilliant professors.

So now I think maybe I don't understand what a beta reader is.. I thought it was for someone asking for someone to read their book so they can correct these types of mistakes BEFORE the book is published. My husband says I am too sensitive, but I feel like crap now because I offended someone.

I just cannot understand why someone whose book has 5 stars would ask for a beta reader..


message 2: by J.M. (new)

J.M. Johnson (jmjohnson) | 3 comments Don't feel bad. I think you have the right concept of what a beta reader is and maybe this other person didn't.


message 3: by Kevis (last edited Feb 12, 2014 04:42PM) (new)

Kevis Hendrickson (kevishendrickson) | 130 comments Sadly, that's just the way it goes with some authors and one of the reasons why I rarely offer to read for other authors. I've been writing for a very long time and I have walked over hot coals to gain my writing skills. Any author who has had me as a beta reader gains from the experience.

But I've lost count of the number of authors who get upset when you tell them that their book has critical faults or that they need to work at a particular skill. There's no point in beta reading for an author who doesn't want to know where his mistakes are. Truthfully, its a complete waste of time.

Once a book is already published, it's too late to beta read it. If an author wants to make post-publication revisions, they need to hire an editor, or at least a proofreader. Beta reading happens before a book is released into the wild, not after.


message 4: by Brandon (new)

Brandon Masin | 5 comments Trust me I'm working at getting betas now and have learned early on that you're never done and never perfect. I think anyone putting themselves out there for a beta reader should be ready to accept that.


message 5: by Brooke (new)

Brooke Hutchins | 6 comments Wow! That's crazy. People should appreciate others taking the time out of their busy lives to help and critique. It takes a lot of time and energy because you aren't reading for fun. If you were, you wouldn't have to think through why it doesn't make sense or how to make it better. You'd just happily continue reading.


Gwen ~the Book Diva (bookdivagwen) | 9 comments That author clearly didn't understand the point of beta reading. I always find out upfront the kind of feedback the author needs. It also saves me time. Some want detailed notes while others pretty much want a general review their book. Understandably, authors can get very sensitive but isn't it better to get honest feedback first when changes are still possible than negative reviews from the public when it's too late to do anything about it. Just my opinon...


message 7: by Kevis (last edited Feb 13, 2014 03:24PM) (new)

Kevis Hendrickson (kevishendrickson) | 130 comments The problem is many authors aren't looking for feedback. They want a pat on the back and for you to tell them how great their books are. The problem is that's not what beta reading is for.

But it's not only authors. Too many beta readers are clueless about what their role is as well. It doesn't help an author for a beta reader to tell him that his book is great and disappear into the night after that. It's equally useless to the process of helping to improve an unpublished work as the author being a jackass cause he doesn't want to hear that there's something wrong with his book.


message 8: by Lew (new)

Lew | 1 comments LOL. It's called vanity publishing for a reason. If it's that great, it would have been published. The author is probably conceited. Make sure you know what you are reading in the future.


message 9: by MM (new)

MM (mmpangestu) | 9 comments As an author myself I would appreciate someone taking the time to read my work and point out areas where it could be improved. If the criticism was constructive, and it sounds like it was, you definitely did the right thing in my opinion. Anyone who is willing to put their work out there and specifically ask for feedback needs to be prepared that some of the comments might not be to their liking.

I've also read for a few authors who asked for feedback. I spent time to read their work and spent time to write several long paragraphs of my impressions and comments in detail, inviting the authors to comment back and bounce ideas with me. But strangely, after I sent my feedback, they did not respond. They just disappeared. Not sure what this is about either. Maybe sometimes a detailed criticism is not helpful?


message 10: by Kevis (last edited Feb 13, 2014 10:11AM) (new)

Kevis Hendrickson (kevishendrickson) | 130 comments Kevis wrote: "I've also read for a few authors who asked for feedback. I spent time to read their work and spent time to write several long paragraphs of my impressions and comments in detail, inviting the authors to comment back and bounce ideas with me. But strangely, after I sent my feedback, they did not respond. They just disappeared. Not sure what this is about either. Maybe sometimes a detailed criticism is not helpful? "

That's probably the most irksome thing of all. The outright disrespect for the reader's time. I beta read two books where I laid out the case why the authors should make critical adjustments to their books. The changes did require major work and would have forced them to miss their deadlines. But I insisted that they make the changes or suffer the consequences. The authors flat out ignored my advice and released their books as is. The end result? Tons of negative reviews, each and every one describing the same mistakes that I warned them about. Worse, the bad reviews killed their book sales. One of the authors even came back to me complaining about how hard it was to sell her book and if I had any advice for her. Well, as you guessed, by that point, I was out of advice. Also, it was the last time I beta read for a stranger.


message 11: by Brooke (new)

Brooke Hutchins | 6 comments Whoa Kevin! I would want you to beta for me. You sound hard core! I like when beta are as invested as I am when I beta. Awesome!


message 12: by Kevis (last edited Feb 13, 2014 10:16AM) (new)

Kevis Hendrickson (kevishendrickson) | 130 comments Brooke wrote: "Whoa Kevin! I would want you to beta for me. You sound hard core! I like when beta are as invested as I am when I beta. Awesome!"

What's actually scary is that, in the end, it seems I took the authors' work more seriously than they did, lol.


Gwen ~the Book Diva (bookdivagwen) | 9 comments That's really sad, Kevis. But I've run into the same thing. I have authors defend some of the things I had recommended adjusting. It's like "Sure, that's what you meant to project but that's not how it comes across." When this happens it makes me hope the author doesn't associate me with their book, especially if they don't take my suggestions seriously. It's the moment when the tricky question of "Can I use you in my acknowledgements?" is asked that I cringe! Umm...???...lol

I know my feedback isn't the gospel and I respect an author who wants to stay true to the story as it's written. But they have to decided to either tell the story they want to tell or tell the story people want to read. If they don't care about book sales and they just want to get something out there, fantastic otherwise heed the advice of your beta readers!


message 14: by Janet (new)

Janet Piper | 24 comments Kevin or Gwen,

You are the kind of mentor I would love to have. Please don't give up. I know my books need help, that's why I am here! I know there is a learning curve, but I am willing to do the work. I am a software engineer and this is my first attempt, but I wouldn't be cruel to a new programmer just for the fun of it, so I would expect criticism without cruelty. So far, I have not that on this site.


message 15: by Lin (new)

Lin | 213 comments Mod
A lot of sense in this thread! I, too, give detailed feedback, but I find I have to tailor it to the author - some books I beta are very close to finished and I have few structural issues to comment on. Others can be lacking in several areas, and it's my job then to tactfully suggest to the author what needs doing.

I think there's too much temptation these days for authors to publish too early, before they've polished off their novel or even, in extreme cases, before they've honed their writing skills.

If you're serious about wanting to publish then please do seek beta readers, and be willing to listen to what they have to say, well before planning your launch party, and professional editing/proofreading is also recommended. Self publishing means that the author bears the costs, not that the author does it on the cheap.

Sure, some writers can get away with going totally DIY/using friends and family, but far too many let themselves and their readers down.

When giving feedback, there's also a need to distinguish between "this is badly written", "this didn't work for me" and "this is what you need to do". I try to explain what I see as the weaknesses, not necessarily to tell the author what they need to do to fix it, although I'm always willing to discuss a project after beta. In fact, I've been lucky - there have been very few authors who have totally ignored feedback. Most at least say thank you, and many will discuss points raised/ask questions etc.

Janet I'm sorry you had such a bad experience as a beta reader.


message 16: by Kevis (last edited Feb 13, 2014 03:29PM) (new)

Kevis Hendrickson (kevishendrickson) | 130 comments Gwen ~the Book Diva wrote: "I know my feedback isn't the gospel and I respect an author who wants to stay true to the story as it's written. But they have to decided to either tell the story they want to tell or tell the story people want to read. If they don't care about book sales and they just want to get something out there, fantastic otherwise heed the advice of your beta readers!"

You've hit the nail right on the head. There's a big difference between writing for yourself and writing for your readers. Some authors proudly admit that they write for themselves and worry about if others like their books later. Nothing wrong with that.

But there is also a difference between well-intended advice that is stylistic and advice that is substantive. The first requires the author to decide if he wants to stay true to his vision or if he wants to try something different. The latter should require even more examination.

So how does one go about knowing if the feedback they get is stylistic or substantive? If more than one beta reader harps on the same point, chances are you have a problem with your writing/story. If only one person picks up on a point, perhaps it's not a deal breaker.

Either way, authors need be humble enough to accept criticism, even if it hurts. Otherwise, don't bother with finding a beta reader.


message 17: by Kevis (last edited Feb 13, 2014 11:09AM) (new)

Kevis Hendrickson (kevishendrickson) | 130 comments Janet wrote: "Kevin or Gwen,

You are the kind of mentor I would love to have. Please don't give up. I know my books need help, that's why I am here! I know there is a learning curve, but I am willing to do the..."


Janet, I know how hard it is to find a good beta reader. Sometimes it feels like pulling teeth, but I've been fortunate to find a few wonderful beta readers from this group. So I think it's time for me to give back.

I've got a book release tomorrow. But I'll be back over the weekend to see if I can't help out a little. One thing's for sure, I'll be setting a few ground rules so that neither myself or the author feels cheated in the process.


message 18: by Gwen ~the Book Diva (last edited Feb 13, 2014 11:24AM) (new)

Gwen ~the Book Diva (bookdivagwen) | 9 comments Good luck with your release, Kevis. I am a pretty strict romance reader and I took a look at your books and I don't their romance, are they? :(

Janet, my genre is romance so if that's what you're writing and I can help out in any way, let me know!


message 19: by Daniel (last edited Feb 13, 2014 11:25AM) (new)

Daniel Benshana | 17 comments I have just found three beta readers for a fantasy novel of 900 pages. We all agreed what the reading was for - readability, flow, anything they have to read twice because it isn't clear, anything that jarred with the story or needs working on.

Correcting grammar/spelling is proof reading and a completely different skill.

I am well aware of the tine involved, and it doesn't just extend to be courteous. I have offered signed copies of the final book, invited to the launch and I am planning a gift.

As with everything if you agree what your 'job' if before hand you will have fewer moments of aggravation.


message 20: by Kevis (last edited Feb 13, 2014 12:56PM) (new)

Kevis Hendrickson (kevishendrickson) | 130 comments Gwen ~the Book Diva wrote: "Good luck with your release, Kevis. I am a pretty strict romance reader and I took a look at your books and I don't their romance, are they? :("

Gwen, my books are getting steamier with every new entry. In fact, the book I'm publishing tomorrow has a very strong romantic story line with plenty of erotic scenes. But I wouldn't classify anything I've published as romance, not in the strictest sense of the word. But I had so much fun writing this one, I wouldn't be surprised if my next book is 100% romance with a proper HEA. :)


Gwen ~the Book Diva (bookdivagwen) | 9 comments Kevis wrote: "Gwen ~the Book Diva wrote: "Good luck with your release, Kevis. I am a pretty strict romance reader and I took a look at your books and I don't their romance, are they? :("

Gwen, my books are gett..."


Well you had me until you said "proper HEA"...hmmm...what does that mean?? Gah! I'll still check you out though.


message 22: by Kevis (last edited Feb 13, 2014 01:15PM) (new)

Kevis Hendrickson (kevishendrickson) | 130 comments Gwen ~the Book Diva wrote: "Kevis wrote: "Gwen ~the Book Diva wrote: "Good luck with your release, Kevis. I am a pretty strict romance reader and I took a look at your books and I don't their romance, are they? :("

Gwen, my ..."


HEA=Happily Ever After. I was under the impression that it was part of the convention of writing a proper romance novel. I've read enough romance novels to note that particular fact. In any event, the last thing I want is for romance readers to pull out the pitchforks. So an HEA is a must, LOL.


Gwen ~the Book Diva (bookdivagwen) | 9 comments Oh, I know what HEA means! LOL! I just didn't understand the "proper" part as if some of your stories have the improper kind. The kind that do make people want to chase you with pitch forks!! Some of my favorite books didn't have happy endings and I was left feeling absolutely gutted. I was just wanted to prepare myself...


message 24: by Kevis (last edited Feb 13, 2014 01:23PM) (new)

Kevis Hendrickson (kevishendrickson) | 130 comments I meant proper because I keep hearing authors argue that it's still romance even if it doesn't have an HEA. Well, romance novels have been around longer than I have and I'm not trying to redefine the genre.

I believe the first romance novel I read was Johanna Lindsey's "Silver Angel" and it was one of the first things I noticed. The story was very satisfying to me because the heroine got her man in the end. It would have been a real downer if she didn't.


message 25: by Gwen ~the Book Diva (last edited Feb 13, 2014 01:32PM) (new)

Gwen ~the Book Diva (bookdivagwen) | 9 comments Kevis wrote: "I meant proper because I keep hearing authors argue that it's still romance even if it doesn't have an HEA. Well, romance novels have been around longer than I have and I'm not trying to redefine t..."

Good! I am an optimist and I always hold on to hope that things will work out some how. Don't be a writer that tries to go against that! There are too many out there already and it's annoying! Lol!


message 26: by Kevis (last edited Feb 13, 2014 01:32PM) (new)

Kevis Hendrickson (kevishendrickson) | 130 comments Gwen ~the Book Diva wrote: "Kevis wrote: "I meant proper because I keep hearing authors argue that it's still romance even if it doesn't have an HEA. Well, romance novels have been around longer than I have and I'm not trying..."

Thanks for the warning. Last thing I need is an army of angry romance readers trying to stick me with a sharp pointy object. I will definitely be on my best behavior, LOL.


message 27: by Diana (new)

Diana Hockley (cadfael) | 67 comments BETA READING
Writing is a lonely business and takes a lot of self discipline - something which I don't always have! It has taken me many years to get where I am today - reasonably competent and not perfect by any means - I make mistakes as easily as anyone.
Always remember, Independent Authors are fair game for any critic - in fact they are looking for something/anything to put us down so they trumpet that Indie Authors are rat-shit. This is why it is important to put out the very best book an author can if they are "going Indie," otherwise we all get tarred with a careless author's brush.
I am happy to pass on what skills I posess to anyone who wants to accept them and beta reading–quite a strenuous occupation–is one way I can do that. I give my honest opinion and if the author doesn't like it, too bad. Any advice I give an author and suggestions which might make the manuscript better are just that - suggestions - but they come with everything I can produce as a beta reader. An author's rellies or friends will always tell the author that the novel is marvellous, but believe me, if a novel is posted before it's ready, the reviewers who have bought the book will shred it without mercy. Better to listen to your Beta reader, who is giving his or her time FREE and willingly, than to get blasted with a rotten review and no or low sales in consequence.
Snapping at a beta reader or not replying with at least a "Thank you" once a critique is received will get an author everything he or she deserves in the long run.


message 28: by Denise (new)

Denise (mariesiduri) Lyn wrote: "This is a really interesting discussion. I think all these points are valid, especially the need to take all feedback in a positive light."

I'd like a pat on the back, too, but truth is, one learns nothing from pats on the back. It's the stuff that you don't like hearing that is the most helpful. True, some people are just jerks and seem to get off from tearing someone else's work apart, but one can learn from even that. Constructive criticism meant to help, delivered frankly–as painful as it might be–is really the best gift one writer can give another.


message 29: by Janet (new)

Janet Piper | 24 comments Yes Lyn, I agree. Why do you think an author whose book is already published and has 5 stars ask for a beta reader without telling me it was already published?

Had I known, I would have read the book for enjoyment, not looking for errors.


message 30: by Diana (last edited Feb 13, 2014 05:54PM) (new)

Diana Hockley (cadfael) | 67 comments A couple of years ago, I was asked to review a book which was already out and had several five star reviews. I agreed, but when I read it, soon realised that the author had not done her homework! For example, in 1932, there was NO airline passenger service between the USA and the UK. Even mail planes didn't start a once a week service until 1934! This story had the heroine dropping over to the UK overnight and flying back a few days later. Anyone can make a mistake in a novel, but these facts could have been checked in five minutes on google. (I'm Australian, BTW)

As per my private requested review code, if I find what I consider to be serious errors, I never post a review but contact the author direct. Of course, I didn't post a review for this one and emailed the author to point out this and several other glaring errors.

I was very disappointed to receive an abusive email in return, finishing with: "I have five star reviews on Amazon! How dare you say what you did?" After that, I really did feel like posting a review on Amazon, but didn't. Suffice to say I will never read another book by this author, which is a pity because there were a lot of good elements in the book, which I also noted, and praised her for, in my email.

Oh well... :(


message 31: by Kevis (last edited Feb 13, 2014 06:19PM) (new)

Kevis Hendrickson (kevishendrickson) | 130 comments Diana wrote: "I was very disappointed to receive an abusive email in return, finishing with: "I have five star reviews on Amazon! How dare you say what you did?""f

For a minute I was feeling as if I was the resident hater of this thread. But now that others are chiming in to reveal how poorly they were treated by the authors whose books they read, I feel a little better. Authors, do everyone a favor and don't ask for help, unless you really want it. If nothing else, you're making it worse for the authors who really do want help...


message 32: by Trisha (new)

Trisha | 38 comments I'm new to this group and have found all of your comments helpful. In fact, I hadn't even heard about Beta readers until last week. What? There are people (strangers) who are willing to read my book and help with suggestions and comments. For free?

I just finished my first novel. I found the entire process to be fulfilling--hard--but, fulfilling. This past year has provided my with a steep learning curve. I've found it exciting. I believe receiving insights and comments from a beta reader would allow for so much more growth. Bring it on!


message 33: by Jennifer (last edited Feb 16, 2014 12:31PM) (new)

Jennifer (blacjak) | 7 comments Janet wrote: "Someone asked for a beta reader on a historical, so I asked if she wanted to trade. She said yes and we did so. I liked the story, but noticed a couple run on sentences. No big deal, everyone does ..."

I am sorry that your first time beta reading was such a negative experience. The problem is that there are all kinds of people in this world. I do not generally beta read, but I am a freelancer and I have heard my share of abuse.

It sounds like this guy did not want someone to beta read his book, but to review it (which is a different board on Goodreads). It also sounds like he only wanted positive reviews. I recently had a guy hire me to review his screenplay, and he also heaped abuse on me and told me he had hired many other people who told him it was great. To which, I thought, then "why haven't you sold it yet if it is so wonderful?" In your case, I would have probably thought as you did "why did you have me beta read it?" Despite the fact that I have a degree in theatre, he told me I know nothing about screenplays. It hurt, and I have been a little gun shy of taking anymore screenplays since.

The sad thing is with self-publishing you can get people to buy your book with proper marketing even if it isn't all that great. As a freelancer, I know that there are people who will write good (or bad) reviews for money, so I have started taking any review with a grain of salt - especially gloatingly vague ones and unbelievably weird bad ones.


message 34: by Alshia (last edited Feb 14, 2014 05:03AM) (new)

Alshia Moyez (Alshia_moyez) | 64 comments It's funny. I did a beta reading for this girl on here and everything went well with the critique I offered her. I know how it feels to receive the critique on something you have worked so hard on, so I was gentle but honest. In any event, after I was done, she wanted me to read a romance she wrote on Wattpad. I had 6 other people waiting for me to read their stuff so I told her that in a NICE way.

Long story short, she started harassing the #@!! out of me to read her other Romance story (I had already told her I don't like to read romance) . God, it was so crazy. She started sending me messages telling me I was selfish, a bad person, and that I needed to change my heart. This is after I read for her...for nothing. I ended up having to report her to the moderator of this blog, then block her.

I probably shouldn't put her profile link up here but I think I'd better so if anyone decides to read for her, they can go in with this knowledge of what happened (at least to ME). They can make their own decisions from there, from a place of knowledge.
https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/2...


message 35: by Janet (new)

Janet Piper | 24 comments So after all this, I believe the person gave me the book to see how mine should have been written. I must have misunderstood her intentions and read it while looking for errors. I think if you read any book specifically looking for errors, you will find some. I have chalked it up to experience and am moving on. Thank you for all your comments.


message 36: by Emily (new)

Emily | 80 comments I am always nervous when I beta read that I'm going to offend the author, but as an author myself, the reason why I ask for beta readers is because I want to improve my story and finding beta's that give you honest feedback is hard. So I give it to them honestly if that isn't what they want to hear than its their problem not mine. I personally want a thousand constructive comments on mine if I send it out for a beta read. Because of some honestly on here I have had to go back and start pretty much from scratch on a project but at least I'm not putting a bad story out. I would much rather hear it before its published than read it in a review for the whole world to see after its published.


message 37: by Hamilton (last edited Feb 15, 2014 05:49PM) (new)

Hamilton Hill | 19 comments I’m amazed to read that some authors abuse beta readers – I honestly think that they should be named and shamed.

I have a good group of beta’s whom I so appreciate and fortunately the team is consistently growing. They not only help me fix current manuscripts, but assist me in deciding and moulding the direction the protagonists will take as each future novel in the series is written.

I post my standard beta instruction here in the hope that it may help new beta readers, and/or for that matter, new authors understand the role of beta reading.

INSTRUCTION:

As a Beta you don’t need comment on grammar or editing unless you want to. I do understand that ‘Grammar Freaks’ just have to, and God bless you for it. In this case please email a request for a review version of the manuscript.

Otherwise, all I want is an honest high-level feedback and critique. Your truthful opinion is appreciated—really. You won't hurt my feelings if you say the story and/or the writing and/or both are rubbish—how else will I be able to improve the story and or my skills?

I do need you to report and point out confusing sentences or plot events, the places where attention wavers – please mark these paragraphs and pages – it’s important. Also tell me if the protagonists are likable or more importantly credible. Also indicate if you think I need to add more or less detail in any chapter or sentence – if you think the chapter is ‘just right’ say so.

I have attached a sample report from one of my main Beta's to give you an idea of how to report. Please jot down the notes on the manuscript as you read so that you keep accurate notes of:

(a) Anything takes you out of the story: wording, voice, characterization, repetitiveness, boredom;

(b) Pacing issues: too slow, point of view confusion, not enough of an arc, scene goes on too long, etc.

(c) Emotional feedback: when and where you are ‘sucked-in, enthralled, lose interest.

(d) Send me a summary of the above identify the pages and paragraphs reflecting the problems. (I have attached an example report from my primary Beta Reader for you to follow.)

I promise I will fix everything you identify before sending it off to the editor.


- hope this helps someone.


message 38: by Janet (new)

Janet Piper | 24 comments And so I too will disclose more. What did you think you would accomplish by posting this tirade? I never gave your name because I would never want to embarrass anyone or put them on the spot, but you have no trouble doing so, here goes.

I had never heard of Lyn. Never saw her on Oprah or Jon Stewart...

In the post where I first saw her name, she was complaining that there were no beta readers for historicals. Maybe I misread that, but to me that sounds as though she was looking for one. I asked her if she wanted to trade, she said yes. Never mentioning the fact that she had already published her book. (?) WHY??? If she would have said right at the start this is the book I published for you to use as a reference or something, I would not have been looking for errors. I read it thoughtfully and took notes. I returned the first three chapters with my thoughts.

Maybe I am wrong, but I really don't think people spoke in contractions at the turn of the last century. How dare I question that! I realize the reader lives now and you are writing it for the reader who lives now, but every other word does not need to be a contraction.

One sentence of 100 words to me is a slight run on. ...and ...and...and....and... was very distracting to me. How dare I mention that! If that is her writing style fine, but if somebody asks for my opinion - for what it's worth, I will give it. Take it or leave it. That is what I thought I was supposed to do. That is what my original post was about - what really am I supposed to do.

She was, as she said above, livid - to think that a lowly software engineer would question one of the world's greatest writers. And all this BEFORE she returned my manuscript. I was not angry over her review because I had not received her review yet.

I apologized profusely when I realized she was insulted. Actually, I apologized three times! But that was still not enough. When she finally returned my manuscript - apparently written as a schoolgirl's essay - well, you can see from her post above how I was treated.

I was not outraged. I felt like crap for insulting someone who was apparently a very good writer if she got a 5 star review. Please go back and reread my original post!!

You, my friend, have displayed for everyone who really you are.

Some people feel that by putting others down, they raise themselves up. I know I am not a writer - I am a programmer who someday wants to be a writer. I never claimed to be anything more than that. I am humbly on this site asking for help, and by the way, 2 people have already read my manuscript and loved it. Maybe it is a little rough around the edges, but for my first attempt, I am very happy.

Now please, Lyn. Accept my apology in the spirit it was given and leave me alone...


message 39: by Janet (new)

Janet Piper | 24 comments Let's just chalk it up to experience.

I wish you luck and no hard feelings.

God Bless.


message 40: by Lin (new)

Lin | 213 comments Mod
As part of accepting work for beta I now ask writers what their writing experience is and what they intend to do with their work. This helps deal with any mismatch of expectations.

I always take reviews with a pinch of salt, whether 5 star or 1 star; they just provide suggestions as to strengths and weaknesses, and I will often read reviews at both ends of the scale to get an overall picture before reading. As a beta reader, we should generally focus on our own reaction to the story. Each reader brings something different to the book, and may well react to different things, and it can also be difficult to tell between style that appears to hinder reading but is deliberate and lack of writing experience, so my first question when I hit problems is what the author is trying to do. Unless I'm actually editing, I would focus on what seems to be the problem rather than actively seeking to put forward a solution.

I also have a policy of not discussing authors' work with others in any identifiable way. It's safer and friendlier to all that way :)


Amy (My Husband Calls This An Obsession) | 2 comments I had a similar experience. I started a beta read and there was nothing but run on sentences or incomplete sentences. Plus there were major character inconsistencies. I commented on these letting the author know that I was excited to continue and see where the story went but wanted her to know it would take me longer as I was marking up the copy for her review. The author wrote a snippy email back and then proceeded to tell me the copy I had wasn't the latest version. WTH!!! Then why send it to me and waste my time. Needless to say I will not buy anything I see from this author if she ever publishes. It took me months, but I just proofed a book for an author I consider a friend. Completely different experience!! I may try beta reading again. I hope your experience didn't ruin it for you. My suggestion is to get clarity of what the author is looking for you to accomplish for him/her. My author friend had me reading for consistency and overall concept. She has another reader handling the grammar/punctuation in the book. Having this clarity made a huge difference. Good luck on the next round!


message 42: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer (blacjak) | 7 comments Despite that you think my comment was nasty, I stand by it. By your own admission, "I didn’t need a beta reader..." you confirm my assessment that you were not looking for one and therefore should not have used this board to find someone to send your book to.
If you are asking people for their reaction to your published work, you are asking for a review.


message 43: by Lena (new)

Lena | 172 comments Mod
A beta reader is not an author (or not the author of the book they are beta reading, anyway). Obviously, it is up to the author to follow his own best judgment. Maybe it is not what leads to great sales, but it's true to the story, so we stick to it. That's the way I look at it.

I am more than happy and grateful for any advice my betas have given me, but it's up to me to change it, just as it's up to me to change what my editor recommends. No one is going to write the book for me. A beta is one person whose opinion may differ from mine. That's why it's better to have 2 or more betas. If everyone has the same criticism, it's likely valid. But sometimes what one person loves is exactly what another will hate. My last beta was 100% amazing and helpful, and I followed most of her advice, but ultimately, it was my decision, and I didn't always reword a sentence as she suggested.

What I can't understand is authors who argue with betas. That's like arguing with reviewers--but worse! Betas give up their time to help us, and we should be nothing but grateful. If we don't like their advice, we aren't forced to heed it. But asking for a beta is asking for constructive criticism, and that's what we should expect. It's much more frustrating to get a MS back from a beta that just says, "It was great, I loved it." I like betas who aren't afraid to rip it apart!


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