Beta / Proof Readers discussion

Beta Readers > Beta reading for non-fiction books

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message 1: by Chris (new)

Chris Backe (chrisbacke) | 3 comments Here goes nothing!

I highly prefer non-fiction books, especially anything having to do with Asia, travel, or technology. These are subjects I've written books on myself.

I will take on the occasional fiction book - especially if it's sci-fi, time travel, or full of action.

I'm 32, married guy, no kids, so no romance, children's books, or women's fiction, please. I wouldn't be the best person to offer feedback on it anyway.

I do accept adult-themed books / erotica, although they're not something I read very often. You'll still get the best feedback I can offer, of course.

Rate: $2.00 USD per 1,000 words, minimum $20 - round your manuscript up or down to the nearest thousand.

What do you get?

Responses to about 20 questions about your book. I have two general lists of about 15 questions each - one for fiction books and one for non-fiction books. Another 5 questions are based on the specific genre of your book, and you're welcome to add a few questions of your own. I'm an author of a dozen books and itineraries, and have taught self-publishing workshops in South Korea and Thailand.

Feedback returned within 1-2 weeks of receipt - as of right now, it's closer to a week in terms of workload.

PDF or Word works great - Word is best if you want comments / notations.

Contact me through e-mail:, or learn more at

message 2: by Virginia (new)

Virginia Rand I don't usually think of beta reader as being a paid position.

message 3: by Anna (new)

Anna | 17 comments neither do I :)

message 4: by Java (new)

Java Davis (javadavis) | 4 comments He has a right to charge for his time. The marketplace will dictate whether or not anyone wants to buy his time.

message 5: by Dan (new)

Dan (phrichos) | 9 comments WANTED: ZOMBIE-KILLERS (No nit-pickers need apply.)

For the record: there's nothing either illegal or immoral about charging for beta reading. Like Java says, however, whether enough (my word: "shoestring") writers (like myself) are willing to pay for the "service" is debatable. Please note: I didn't put quotation marks around "services" in order to be snide; I did it to make the point that Beta Reading and (Copy) Editing are both essentially and outwardly very different activities. Because it is a bona fide "industry," one is a bona fide service; the other is essentially an act of humanity and of belonging. (I suppose they also like the idea of being the first to know something. I know I do.)

By no means falling under the heading of casual exercises, Copy (and General) Editing are truly laborious and skilfull endeavours, which and as a matter of routine (and assuming they are done well) deserve their remuneration. (What, moreover, would be the point in improper editing?) In short, they ain't so easy.

Beta Readers (God Bless'em!) are a very different bottl'a bricks. Again, I hardly mean to be snide when I say they "only" read, since "reading" is in the context of a beta read an even huge understatement. Beta readers READ, and—barring one, major, thing—they best serve their writers when that's ALL they do. Far more—even hugely more—important, you see, is the reason they read. They read to offer a much valued opinion on what is probably best understood as the general run of a book. The key there in turn is the word, "general." (Copy) Editing is a later stage—after—a book's plot and character development, etc. has reached for both author and beta reader, an acceptable level of excellence. Most notably, the two exercises being so different they should neither be mixed nor confused, since to do that can often be fatal to an otherwise potentially great story (or, in the case of non-fiction, "argument," etc.)

Beta readers are just as necessary (in my view they are are even more necessary) than copy editors. (What's more important, a rolliking great story poorly spelled or a poorly written story perfectly spelled?) The critical thing at the Beta Read stage is for the author to have written—eventually—after perhaps two or more beta reads, story worth of a good, well presented (brief ~ish) critique.

When I ask for a beta reader, I really—really(!)—don't want a nit-picker. I want a zombie-killer! First things first, I want an (honest and competent) preliminary assessment—and nothing more. What's the point in correcting sentence structure, spellings, and punctuation, if whole swathes of my work need to be completely re-written? It takes a hard heart to criticise the pointing when the foundations are being poured. Total waste of everybody's time. Doing that, moreover, can really screw with a writer's motivations.

Let's be totally honest here. For all their huge contribution and whereas books are read in hours, competent edits are measured in weeks. Some people may want to be paid for beta reading; and good luck to them. As for me, I go with—I praise—those who "just want to be part of something " and/or "just want to help out." (Because they are—and they do!)

Bottom line: "Editors," stick to your (usually, paid) editing. You may think you're helping with beta reads, but you're only getting in the way. As for you beta readers: your seats in Heaven await you. (Assuming, that is, that I go first!☺)

message 6: by Anna (new)

Anna | 17 comments 'Zombie killer' :-D

message 7: by Lin (new)

Lin | 22 comments As an editor who often offers a paid beta reading service, I find there are many writers prepared to pay a fee for a beta read that they know will be thorough and include advice on what sort of editing will be needed.

I agree that editing and beta reading are different types of services, but who's to say an individual can't offer both?

Often my editing is provided as a follow-up to a beta read, and I have regular clients who will have a beta read, then return later for editing and/or proofreading.

While there are, indeed, beta readers out there prepared to give up their time and effort for free, there are also some who will give little or no feedback, or have little understanding of the writing and editing process. Paying a beta reader gives a little more confidence that feedback will be received and be useful.

I've written blog posts on the subject, on my website at, including articles on how I beta read, how a beta reader can help and the difference between the different types of reading/editing. I also have testimonials from authors I've worked with (and in many cases continue to work with).

And I do find the suggestion that editors are "only getting in the way" with beta reading a little harsh. Maybe if we called it critique instead the fee would be better understood?

message 8: by Dan (new)

Dan (phrichos) | 9 comments Hello Lin,

Ah, yes. Your key word there being "follow-up," by which I take it we are actually on the same page. It's not a question of an individual or different people, but of different processes needing doing at different stages; definitely not together. Many "beta readers" think, and act, like editors--which is what I am getting at. It only confuses things.

"A little harsh" indeed. No more; and no less. Beta readers who do editing at the same time may think they are being helpful, but, as grateful as I am for their input, the simple fact is that in that--and only in that--they're not.

On the question of "understanding of the writing and editing process," what I personally look for in a beta reader is (again) no more and no less than "someone" as with those who walk into a bookstore and buy a book--someone who knows about as much and as little about the editing process as a beta reader needs to. The only difference being that that person is an alpha (paying) reader. When I look for a beta read, I'm looking for the opinion of someone representative of my readers, not my publisher. As you say, a different mindset.

I apologize if I gave the wrong impression. I did not mean to imply that editors are "getting in the way" AS editors. As I said, editors are--at the editing stage--even acutely necessary. It's just that some (and, for some, who may only think or oneself as an "editor" get in the way if, during a beta read, they do actual editing. Fish & flesh, it's completely upsetting.


message 9: by Dan (new)

Dan (phrichos) | 9 comments Oops! Sorry Anna; forgot your own comment.

Um... haven't seen that smilie before. Is that a smile with its tongue hanging out? If so, I regret I'm a little confused. Are you saying the phrase in that context "blows your mind?"(If so, thanks!)

If, btw, you ARE a Zombie-killer, maybe we should get together (as, of course, writer-reader.) If my books are--or are likely to become--zombies, I want to know that now, so I can fix them.

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