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message 1: by Erica (new)

Erica Stinson (goodreadscomerica_r_stinson) | 139 comments Hi everyone!

Okay, I have a dilemma. I asked people to participate in a beta reader project for me, for which they had to sign up for it. I randomly picked ten people out of the submissions of interested parties and asked for them to read, complete a survey by such-and-such a date because I want feedback. I just wanted to have a general idea of how the story was taken, liked/disliked etc. So no one has responded, despite reminder email etc. and I find this extremely rude. I use mailchimp, so I have all the back-end information in regards to the emails and they were all opened and files were downloaded. I mean, why sign up if you are not going to do it??? There were other people interested and not picked, but now there is no time to resend emails to them because the book needs to be uploaded by a certain time this coming week. Anyone else ever have this happen? And if so, how did you handle it with the people when they don't respond/time runs out/etc.? Send them an email? Ignore and scratch them from your email list? What? I had given plenty of time and even an extra week was given because I'd rather make corrections now then upload it and look like an ass later because I am the only one that ever read my book. This was a simple request made difficult by people who weren't courteous enough to at least let me know what happened/send an email stating something came up/whatever. Thoughts?



message 2: by Phyllis (new)

Phyllis Entis | 43 comments I use beta-readers, but I don't pick them at random. I have a network of friends whose opinions I value. Some of them are writers, but not all of them.

It is important to approach people who are familiar with your genre, and who you can trust to give you honest and constructive feedback.

It also sounds to me as though you didn't leave yourself enough time to revisit your manuscript after receiving your beta-readers' comments. I typically find myself going through another 3 or 4 rounds of editing AFTER receiving feedback from my beta-readers.

I hope things work out for you.

message 3: by Christina (last edited Oct 20, 2017 02:21PM) (new)

Christina McMullen (cmcmullen) Moved to the appropriate folder.

Honestly, I will only ask certain authors who are familiar with my work to beta read for me and even then, I'll have about half who either forget it, have something come up, or can't. It happens. You might want to send out a reminder email and ask that they reply if they won't have the time, but when it comes to folks doing free favors like that, it's always best to have a backup plan just in case.

message 4: by Christine (last edited Oct 20, 2017 02:40PM) (new)

Christine Goodnough (christinev-g) Erica wrote: "Hi everyone!
Okay, I have a dilemma. I asked people to participate in a beta reader project for me..."

I don't blame you for being upset, but the fact is, you can't make people reply. This is a voluntary thing, I assume, and you can hope that once the book is up on Amazon they'll have read and will post a review. But they should have said, "Sorry, I can't."

Or maybe they read some, but didn't like your book. Didn't want to address the issues and possibly upset you. Some people don't like confrontation, so they duck out the back door without saying goodbye.

I worked with a teen one time and she was ALWAYS up-front willing. A people-pleaser. A commitment meant nothing, though. She'd promise to be here or there, but you soon realized you could never count on her. No warning --- she just wouldn't show. Even the boss couldn't count on her to show up at work because she'd also committed herself, on the spur of the moment, to do something else.

In the long run you do get what you pay for. If you really want to know how your story works, you're better off hiring someone with a proven record of delivery and honesty. They won't say, "Yeah, this is good," if it really isn't. (Another issue)

message 5: by Erica (new)

Erica Stinson (goodreadscomerica_r_stinson) | 139 comments I appreciate all of the responses, but I really want to address this and want to do it in a way to alert them that I am really disappointed but in the same token not antagonize them. It's rough. Really pissed because if I had known they were going to flake I wouldn't have bothered with a beta-read in the first place. I probably won't ever do another one with these particular people.

Thanks again,


message 6: by Erica (new)

Erica Stinson (goodreadscomerica_r_stinson) | 139 comments Also, I sent a reminder email - twice(didn't want to overload) Was out of the country on vacation and come back to no replies on it, no emails, nothing. I had no access to wi-fi during my trip(was on a cruise)and I gotta tell ya, it was a real let-down. So one reminder went before the trip and I sent another a week later, after I came back. I've been back for a week now and nothing. I think it's safe to say they either really hated it(as suggested)or they are just flaky. Either way this does not help me improve my writing, but I do want to address their failure to complete the project to the participants.


message 7: by Christine (new)

Christine Goodnough (christinev-g) Erica wrote: "Also, I sent a reminder email - twice(didn't want to overload) Was out of the country on vacation and come back to no replies on it, no emails, nothing..."

You can "get it off your chest" by sending them a grumble, but likely some won't reply and others will say, "Oh, I forgot/couldn't, etc." And if someone was actually going to reply you may tick them off.

I agree with most of what the other writers have suggested. I try to remind myself when disappointed, "Life is a school. I may not have paid university tuition, but the lessons still cost me. And they are valuable in the long run. ;(

message 8: by G.G. (new)

G.G. (ggatcheson) | 2491 comments I have to admit that it is rather strange that all ten of the betas wouldn't even answer. I mean, I'd thing that at least one would. Even if it is to say he or she couldn't do it/didn't have time/didn't like it or whatever.

If something like this were to happen to me, I'd still try to do beta, but definitely not with the same people. As Christina said, try to stick with people who have read your books before and are familiar with your work. Finding good betas isn't the easiest thing but it's feasible.

Good luck

message 9: by Erica (new)

Erica Stinson (goodreadscomerica_r_stinson) | 139 comments Well, my cousin has offered to read it for me once she found out what happened. I also found it strange that not a one of them responded. Well, I planned to mailchimp something to them along the grounds of being really disappointed that they didn't at least email or something to say they couldn't do it after all, etc. And also to inform them that they have been removed from the beta program. I will wait a few days when I am not so angry and maybe send it. Now is not the best time lol. I wear my heart on my sleeve a bit, and I was raised to have manners so I would have never done this to someone....but I thank you all for the sound advice. Life is a school, indeed.....

message 10: by Garfield (new)

Garfield Whyte (garfieldwhyte) | 124 comments Sorry to hear about your ordeal. I think maybe because it was a free service why that happened. I tried using free beta readers before and I found them to very casual (my experience), the paid one (most of them) get back to you.

A few weeks ago I started a thread about beta readers, 2 different threads. One was to do with paid beta readers versus free beta readers. The other was regular readers versus beta readers. Both generated a lively discussion. The sad thing was that a few persons attacked m that i was being negative to beta readers when some persons make a living that way. One author hijacked my thread and said I was harsh and went on to say that i complained some long time ago about a review I got. The moderator closed the thread and refused to speak with the person who got personal on the thread.

I am happy you raised this topic but again I think maybe its because they were free beta or o should say "fake beta readers" as their level of professionalism is in overdraft.

message 11: by G.G. (new)

G.G. (ggatcheson) | 2491 comments Erica wrote: "Well, my cousin has offered to read it for me once she found out what happened. I also found it strange that not a one of them responded. Well, I planned to mailchimp something to them along the gr..."

Could it be a problem with mailchimp? I never used that program. When I beta for people, they communicate with me using their personal emails.

message 12: by Erica (new)

Erica Stinson (goodreadscomerica_r_stinson) | 139 comments mailchimp is fine. I am rather good with it since I used it when I had my custom cake business. They all opened the emails and downloaded the ARCs, so there's no mistake there. It's my fault for not researching how to do this properly. Plus I was getting ready to go on vacation, but to my credit I advertised this on all pertinent boards for my genre way back in August, knowing I was planning an October release. Then I had issues with my files, which hindered me uploading to book funnel and I am just really sad that this did not work out as good as I had hoped. In any event, lesson learned.....

message 13: by Erica (new)

Erica Stinson (goodreadscomerica_r_stinson) | 139 comments Garfield wrote: "Sorry to hear about your ordeal. I think maybe because it was a free service why that happened. I tried using free beta readers before and I found them to very casual (my experience), the paid one ..."

I haven't been on here in a while, since I was finishing up my book. I wish I had seen that back then! Sorry they took you through the ringer....

message 14: by Dwayne, Head of Lettuce (new)

Dwayne Fry | 4305 comments Mod
Garfield wrote: "Sorry to hear about your ordeal. I think maybe because it was a free..."

Maybe, maybe not. All of my beta readers have been free thus far. All but one have been helpful. I had one vanish on me without a word. I sent one email to softly ask if she was coming back or if she'd lost interested and received no response. I moved on.

So, Erica, I would probably ask your betas if they are planning to continue or not, give it a few days and if you receive no response, assume they are not going to continue and look for more. I know it's frustrating and I'm sorry all ten seemingly bailed on you. That is strange.

is there a reason you have to upload the book soon? Could it be put off a while? Going forward, I might suggest you get the beta reading side of it out of the way before you set a date to publish. You need that time to edit your book.

message 15: by Erica (new)

Erica Stinson (goodreadscomerica_r_stinson) | 139 comments I’ve actually gone ahead and edited the book and the reason that I’m uploading it now is because it was supposed to be out during the summer. But I was very, very sick until last year and in the hospital for weeks which put an unexpected halt on the project. I’m talking it took me six months to recover after getting out the hospital which I did no writing at all. In fact, I didn’t do anything at all because all I could do was lay here. So that being said I had already been marketing the book way back then, promoting its summer release. So basically what I’ve been doing for most of the summer is just touching up here in there, rereading, etc. In all honesty, the beta read was just to get an idea of how people felt about the story such as content etc. and wow factor because there were definitely some twist and turns during the end. This same thing happened to me with my last book and no one wanted to read it. The last two projects I’ve done have been relatively short, about 100 pages or so. I’ve had someone ask me to do a beta for something that’s 10 times that and I’ve been able to do it without a problem even though it took me a while. So, it’s an unusual situation but I’m just going to release it on Tuesday like I planned but I will probably send an email to those parties after I release it. Hopefully my cousin will be able to just glimpse it for me before I release it. She actually helped me edit and proofread my very first book which was about 300 pages long. Then she further went to have her book club read the book after it was released and they decided it would be the book of the month to read for the club so that made me very happy. And most importantly, they really, really enjoyed it and they stated their opinions on Amazon for which I will be eternally grateful. I had never met any of them but I just don’t want any kind of bias or anything (my cousin is one of my biggest cheerleaders has always been there to help me with stuff. )which is why I was looking for people that I don’t know from a can of paint to read the book and let me get feedback. My biggest issue is no marketing budget and lack of experience with marketing so my books remain virtually unseen because of this. I how much scrap the whole project because I knew something like this was gonna happen. What’s the point of working so hard on something only to have no one read it in even when you give them a free copy for Beta read they still don’t read it? I find when people actually give them a chance they rather like them but I just need to work on getting better exposure. Sorry to ramble on about this but I’ve been battling severe depression since getting out of the hospital last year too, so it’s a wonder this book even made it but it’s what made me get out of bed in the morning. Thanks

message 16: by John (new)

John Folsom What's a "Beta reader?"

If what i's I think it is, are you "focus group" testing your work?

You need a good editor, not a "focus group."

message 17: by Erica (new)

Erica Stinson (goodreadscomerica_r_stinson) | 139 comments Always thought a beta reader was someone who reads a pre-released book before it’s actually released to give feedback. Am I right in thinking this way? I’ve always heard about beta readers so that is what I assumed they were. As far as doing a focus group, I’ve never looked at it that way so that might be an option(unless they are the same thing). When I advertised for readers back in August I had hoped to get bunches of them because I’ve got projects lined up for the next 10 years. So I’m already starting my next project because nanowrimo is coming up November 1 to the 30th. I’m not announcing anything about the new project(outline already in effect and cover completely done) until it’s done and then I will try to get beta readers. And I plan to do this at least nine months before releasing the book (6 months minimum just to make sure that everything is covered.) definitely do not want to repeat of this and I actually posted in a group of others looking for reviewers so we’ll see what happens. Far too late for Beta read now but I can still at least try to get feedback

message 18: by G.G. (new)

G.G. (ggatcheson) | 2491 comments You are right Erica. Beta readers are to give feed back on the story. What's hard to understand. What's missing. Plot holes, typos, wrong words etc. Just keep in mind that one alone won't do all of this (unless you are very lucky). That's why people often rely on many (but you would have had that covered if all ten would have returned to you.)

As for 'have to hire an editor'? No, JD. An author does what she or he feels good doing. Some authors I know don't hire editors and their work is as good as any others. I'm not confident enough with my English, so I prefer hiring one, but it's my choice.

message 19: by John (new)

John Folsom G.G. wrote: "You are right Erica. Beta readers are to give feed back on the story. What's hard to understand. What's missing. Plot holes, typos, wrong words etc. Just keep in mind that one alone won't do all of..."


You understand the value of a good editor.

message 20: by Erica (new)

Erica Stinson (goodreadscomerica_r_stinson) | 139 comments Budget permitting, in all honesty, I would hire an editor but the same cousin who is currently reading the book for me helped me with the first book I ever published. She’s really good with grammar and stuff like(she taught high school English for 30 years and was the assistant principal for the English department at her high school) that but she doesn’t always have the time to do it, but I do appreciate what she has done. I’m just going to move forward and hope that I can get some honest feedback and I will just have to do my best to get this done and out. Be smarter the next time. I think my biggest flaw was not having enough time from the completed first draft, but in my haste to push the project plus the time I lost from being ill and everything last year it just wasn’t a good decision on my part to push it so quickly.

message 21: by Christina (new)

Christina McMullen (cmcmullen) One of our rules, as is laid out in Ann's original post, is that 'hire a professional' is not constructive. Everyone here is aware of the value of professional services and may make their own decisions as to whether or not they can or want to use them. However, this topic is regarding beta readers, who provide a very different function from an editor. Some people pay for betas,some people don't. Regardless, please stay on topic.

message 22: by Jane (new)

Jane Jago | 888 comments My take. If we are asking for people’s help then we have to be grateful for those who reply and not get excited by the failure rate.

Personally, I have never felt that asking people to complete a survey is a good way to go with betas. I just ask people to read and make any comments they feel are necessary. Seems to work just fine, although my beta readers are all people I know and trust.

As an aside, I was going to beta read for somebody a while back, but they laid down a lot of terms and conditions so I politely backed out.

In the end this is one you just have to put down to experience.

Good luck with the book, and don’t let stuff get to you

message 23: by Erica (new)

Erica Stinson (goodreadscomerica_r_stinson) | 139 comments I can understand someone wanting to politely back out and it’s fine. All they had to do was just simply say it wasn’t for them after all and I would’ve just picked somebody else that actually wanted to do it. I thought for minute about sending them a bill because I’m not in the habit of just giving books away for free but I came to my senses and I am just moving on lol. I’m just very funny about common courtesy because it would’ve taken five seconds for someone to send a simple email saying “hey I don’t have time to do it after all” and I would’ve just moved onto the next people in the group. And this isn’t the first time this has happened so I’m constantly marketing trying to get stuff noticed and I get the same reaction no matter what I try to do. I’m just trying to move past this and successfully get something completed with my writing once and for all when it comes to readership. I’m relatively new at all of this, my first book coming out only in 2015 so I have a lot to learn. But as I said, I’m going to move on and try a different strategy. Just be smarter about it next time and not have too much hope/try not to take it so personal. Basically I can only worry about what I do and not other people’s actions, so I will get over it.

message 24: by Erica (new)

Erica Stinson (goodreadscomerica_r_stinson) | 139 comments (not an attack just an observation)And as far as terms and conditions being laid out, I can understand that too because writers are really serious about their work (which we all know.) We don’t have time to play games with people who aren’t serious When they sign up for a beta read. So I can understand how that could turn people off but we’re trying to do things right here

message 25: by Christine (last edited Oct 23, 2017 07:54AM) (new)

Christine Goodnough (christinev-g) Erica wrote: "I'm relatively new at all of this, my first book coming out only in 2015..."

Since you already have a book or books published, maybe you can go back to the readers who reviewed your book(s) favorably and/or contacted you about how they liked your writing, and ask them to beta read. This happened to me once when I wrote to a writer whose series I really enjoyed, and I think it's one of the best ways to get a new beta reader.

As to your comment, "We don't have time to play games with people who aren't serious...
Beta readers (volunteer) and reviewers are doing us a favor; I think it's important to show an attitude of appreciation toward them. True, common courtesy would call for some note of explanation from them if they promise and then don't follow through, but we can't become exacting or we won't get any help.

message 26: by Garfield (new)

Garfield Whyte (garfieldwhyte) | 124 comments Christine wrote: "Erica wrote: "I'm relatively new at all of this, my first book coming out only in 2015..."

Since you already have a book or books published, maybe you can go back to the readers who reviewed your ..."

I can understand Erica's point about "play games"..someone volunteering to be a beta reader ought to be professional and responsible. The fact that they volunteered should not absolve them from basic courtesy.

message 27: by Christina (new)

Christina McMullen (cmcmullen) Again, the group rules are to stay positive.

Also, this would be a good time to remind everyone that all comments made here are public, meaning anyone (including your beta readers) can see that you're trashing them. Please stop.

As Christine said above, beta readers are doing a favor. As no money has changed hands, they are not required to provide a service and therefore no, there is no requirement of professionalism.

message 28: by Dwayne, Head of Lettuce (last edited Oct 23, 2017 08:30AM) (new)

Dwayne Fry | 4305 comments Mod
In my little circle of betas - one has not even started to read the book, one had issues with health and work and has been slow to read. One has finished and indicated that while she loved the book, she won't be reading it in the second round of beta reads. One dropped out without a word. Several people I asked had no interest in even starting the book. And so on. I'm grateful to each and every one of them and would never think to complain publicly about how unprofessional they are or how they owe me some kind of courtesy.

Life happens, people. Betas are not put on this earth to fall in love with our work. They have lives to live. They have families, work, health. If someone doesn't want to read your book or gives it up after a while, if someone stops communicating with you, whatever the situation - let it go!

Work interferes with my writing. Taking care of my house and my wife and my dogs gets in the way. Some days I don't even feel like looking at my book. If we cannot be constantly devoted to our own work, why expect anyone else to be devoted to it at all?

Move on and let it go.

message 29: by Christina (new)

Christina McMullen (cmcmullen) Comments deleted for being outside group rules. Topic is now locked as this discussion is only growing more negative.

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