Beta Reader Group discussion

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Writing Advice & Discussion > Finding a Trustworthy Beta?

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message 1: by Scorpio-of-Autumn (last edited Feb 24, 2016 01:20PM) (new)

Scorpio-of-Autumn | 35 comments Hello, all!

I just became a beta reader a couple weeks ago, and I love working with my amazing client and her story. However, I've been seriously considering lending my WIP out to those willing to give honest feedback.

Yet, I'm terrified. Not of the critique, of being plagiarized.

My parents drilled into my brain all the dangers of sharing writing online and convinced me that I WOULD be plagiarized if I ever did.

But I spend more and more time in this beta reading community, and I long for the wealth of helpful feedback I could receive. But you can never tell when you're being catfished, and I have no way of knowing if a potential beta could be wanting to steal my work.

Yeah, I know I'm paranoid, but no writer wants to be stolen from. I have absolutely no one outside of one person to look over my writing in real life. If there's a way to, I guess..."spy test" a beta for fraud, does anyone have a tactic?

For those who have had beta readers, how did you know if they were trustworthy?


message 2: by Rod (new)

Rod Baker | 119 comments maybe see if they have a website, if they are gonna steal stuff, they are less likely to have a public persona?

rodbakerbooks.com


Scorpio-of-Autumn | 35 comments Rod wrote: "maybe see if they have a website, if they are gonna steal stuff, they are less likely to have a public persona?

rodbakerbooks.com"


I was thinking about doing swaps. You know, only share my stuff with those who share with me? But still, even that's not 100%. Nothing's really 100%, but I want the safest route possible.


message 4: by Rod (new)

Rod Baker | 119 comments Nothing is 100 %. I have used beta readers on goodreads for both my books and sent my writing to at least 20 unknown people with no problem. There is info on the net about how to stop them if they do plagiarise your work...but as they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

I realise its like leaving your baby with a babysitter you don't know...but you just have to get over it!


Scorpio-of-Autumn | 35 comments Rod wrote: "Nothing is 100 %. I have used beta readers on goodreads for both my books and sent my writing to at least 20 unknown people with no problem. There is info on the net about how to stop them if they ..."

Thank you for your advice, Rod! I appreciate the response. I'll do more research, and make the best choice for me and my goals. Take care!


message 6: by Zara (new)

Zara Lethallan (zaralethallan) | 1 comments Scorpio-of-Autumn wrote: "Hello, all!

I just became a beta reader a couple weeks ago, and I love working with my amazing client and her story. However, I've been seriously considering lending my WIP out to those willing to..."


I have been having the same worries. I am nervous to put my work out there that is not finished or done.


message 7: by E.A. (new)

E.A. Turley (eaturley) | 31 comments Scorpio-of-Autumn wrote: "Hello, all!

I just became a beta reader a couple weeks ago, and I love working with my amazing client and her story. However, I've been seriously considering lending my WIP out to those willing to..."


The only thing i can suggest is to finish your first draft and self edit it, then copyright the draft under your own name. You can then give it out to others safely and once your final draft is back from your editors, update the registered manuscript under your copyright. It's what i do. But as Rod says, if you write something well enough for others to want to copy, then you must be doing something right!
Liz


message 8: by T.A. (new)

T.A. (tahernandez) | 42 comments One thing that might help is to just try to get involved with the writing community in general. That's a lot easier now with online communications. I have met a bunch of really awesome writers over the years and regularly exchange critique with some of them. Since I know them already, I don't have to worry about them stealing my work. So get out there and try to meet people, particularly other writers who share your interests or have similar goals for their writing as you do. Not only will this help you find good beta readers, but the support and interaction with other writers is really fun and helpful.

Swaps are also a good idea. If the person is someone I don't know and have never worked with before, I usually only send a small portion of the manuscript, maybe the first one or two chapters, and I ask them to only send me that much to start, too. There are a few reasons for this. First, it allows me to see if their story is something I really want to spend a lot of time working on (and vice versa). I've gotten a few manuscripts that just really weren't my cup of tea or that clearly hadn't even been worked on by the author at all, so I've had to decline reading the rest of the manuscript. I'm sure some people feel the same way about my work, too. Second, I have an opportunity to test out their feedback and make sure it's actually going to be useful. I've had a few beta readers come back with things like, "I love this, it's wonderful." And frankly, that's not helpful. Third, I can make sure that they're serious about giving and receiving feedback and not just looking for manuscripts to steal, because I'm as paranoid about that as any other author. If they provide good, valid criticism, if I'm interested in their story, and if they want to continue beta-reading mine, I'll send the rest of the manuscript.


message 9: by T.A. (new)

T.A. (tahernandez) | 42 comments One thing that might help is to just try to get involved with the writing community in general. That's a lot easier now with online communications. I have met a bunch of really awesome writers over the years and regularly exchange critique with some of them. Since I know them already, I don't have to worry about them stealing my work. So get out there and try to meet people, particularly other writers who share your interests or have similar goals for their writing as you do. Not only will this help you find good beta readers, but the support and interaction with other writers is really fun and helpful.

Swaps are also a good idea. If the person is someone I don't know and have never worked with before, I usually only send a small portion of the manuscript, maybe the first one or two chapters, and I ask them to only send me that much to start, too. There are a few reasons for this. First, it allows me to see if their story is something I really want to spend a lot of time working on (and vice versa). I've gotten a few manuscripts that just really weren't my cup of tea or that clearly hadn't even been worked on by the author at all, so I've had to decline reading the rest of the manuscript. I'm sure some people feel the same way about my work, too. Second, I have an opportunity to test out their feedback and make sure it's actually going to be useful. I've had a few beta readers come back with things like, "I love this, it's wonderful." And frankly, that's not helpful. Third, I can make sure that they're serious about giving and receiving feedback and not just looking for manuscripts to steal, because I'm as paranoid about that as any other author. If they provide good, valid criticism, if I'm interested in their story, and if they want to continue beta-reading mine, I'll send the rest of the manuscript.


message 10: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne Paschke (thunderpaws) This is one of my biggest fears. I have been searching through this forum for the past few hours trying to get the courage up to call for beta readers myself but the thought of putting my hard work in the hands of others terrifies me. Not for the feedback, that I welcome with open arms, but the notion that someone might take my work at publish it as their own or plagiarise it scares the living daylights out of me.

Having said that I've been a beta reader for an author who didn't know me at all and trusted me with her own manuscript. Clearly she was more brave than I am at the moment!


message 11: by Michael (new)

Michael Lewis (mll1013) | 30 comments You can increase your piece of mind if you are a US author and copyright your work with the US Copyright Office. A copyright will set you back $35, but I suspect you might find it worth the expense. IIRC, you technically don't need to register to copyright your work. A copyright is just as legal if you place a copyright statement in your book, but as a legal recourse, it might be difficult to prove should you end up in court trying to prove your case against a suspected plagiarist.


message 12: by Damien (new)

Damien (LukeWinters) | 11 comments Theft of written work is actually quite rare, and fairly easy to pick up if it does happen. Have you thought about one of the online writing communities like Scribophile? Other writers are far less likely to take your work I suspect.

I'm currently reading two drafts at the moment of writers from there who I've got to know through that community. Say hi if you do join!


message 13: by Crystal (new)

Crystal | 28 comments Sue wrote: "This is one of my biggest fears. I have been searching through this forum for the past few hours trying to get the courage up to call for beta readers myself but the thought of putting my hard work..."

That's how I started, Sue. I beta read for many other authors before I mustered up enough courage to let anyone see my work. Once I finally did, I was so nervous!
I'm glad I took the plunge :) Their feedback has been so incredibly helpful.


message 14: by Elaine (new)

Elaine (Finchyy) | 1 comments Scorpio-of-Autumn wrote: "Hello, all!

I just became a beta reader a couple weeks ago, and I love working with my amazing client and her story. However, I've been seriously considering lending my WIP out to those willing to..."


I've written 3 books and I'm now at the stage of having the first one beta read but feel the same as you. A few weeks ago I came across a website called MYOW (My own work) - I think it's FOC for up to 30 files and after that it's cheap as chips. Basically, you upload your manuscript and this site dates/time stamps it so as I recall at this point in time, you have proved you have ownership of the document. I can't remember all the stuff and I'm not at the point yet where I need to use it but I definitely will when I'm ready.


message 15: by Rickey (new)

Rickey Clay (Rickeyclay) | 10 comments I've had the same concerns. While online services are the quickest and most prominent source for many things these days, they also make things scary.

Copyright. It's not an expensive service and you can copyright your unedited work. When giving something to a beta reader, I'd assume, it's not a finished product. So getting the copyright done on it first could alleviate the worries of plagiarism.

That MYOW website sounds very useful and quick as well. There are ways to protect yourself. As with everything else (as we know as authors with manuscripts)--it takes research.


message 16: by Martin (new)

Martin Rinehart _50 Shades_ sold millions after the author posted most of it online. Plagiarism is not a problem.

Worry about how to get beta readers. Finding good readers is hard.


message 17: by Martin (new)

Martin Rinehart Michael is right about registering ($35) with the copyright office.

Remember that your work is copyright by you, without registering. Sending your manuscript attached to an email to yourself is also pretty good, and $35 cheaper. Click Archive and you have a backup in the cloud, too.


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