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General Discussion > Idea for Future Feature of Goodreads

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message 1: by Thomas (new)

Thomas Wilson (StorytellerTDW) | 4 comments One feature Goodreads may have not considered that would or could potentially be fun.
Goodreads has authors and prolific readers. In the good old days you could not get published without query letters and an agent, and then you had to get past the publisher and editors in order for your books to see the light of day.
Today we have a revolution going on in the broken down model of traditional publishing. If it wasn’t broken there wouldn’t be a revolution. Before the crap would get swept away with some good stuff by the system, in what is known as a slush pile. But today it is being put directly in the hands of the readers. There is a flood of books being published by anybody with the where withall to start and finish a book and who figures out how to self publish. The slush pile is being dumped into the market for good or bad and it is up to the readers who will succeed and who will not.
In order to grow as an independent author without the resources to pay for professional editing, or to have people read our rough drafts and suggest changes, what they liked or didn’t like, Independent Authors need Beta Readers.
I got the idea of Beta Readers from Ken Follett, a great author, who has his outlines read three to four times by a small group of people who provide feedback as to what was interesting what was not, what they liked, what they didn’t like, etc. He said that did more to help him become a great author than anything else he has ever done. How many readers of Goodreads would love to team up with authors and help them create better and up and coming novels by just reading and commenting to the author on the rough material in process before the rewrites and editing?
I am sure there are English knowledgable readers who would be interested in editing near finished work, for free, it provides them with editing credits in the finished book, reading material that later will be a finished book, maybe it could grow into a career. If I found a great editor or two and hit the big time where I actaully sell thousands of books with a new release, you could bet your ass I would be paying the person who helped me with my next book and every one after that for their help. As a person, one of thousands, who can’t afford three to five dollars a page for editing, or $50.00 per hour for editing, but needs the technical help, when it comes together I will be sharing the wealth in order to secure my future and that of my editors. A good editor who can read and correct and work with several authors, when it develops to where the authors can pay the going rate for editing for one or two novels a year, it could develop into a buisness for Editors, Writers, and more involvement and fun for willing readers who want to participate.
I would like Beta Readers, but having other authors do it would be a conflict of interest. But to have readers read and comment honestly on what they like or dislike about my work will help me grow as a writer. Not all Indie Authors are going to be this open for critiques, but then not all Indie Authors are in a position to grow and learn. Not all of us have talent. As far as Editing, I have heard it described as having to not only tell somebody their baby is ugly but you have to tell them how and why their baby is ugly. It will take time to find the right mixes of people to work and collaborate together. It is a need, book related, and you already have everybody you need in place to pull it off, it just requires putting it together.
Goodreads would be cementing their future with the future of publishing, readers and writers working together, collaborating, and everybody spreading the word about the books they read, the books they write, the books they edit, etc. etc. etc.
Just an idea!!

message 2: by John (new)

John McCarthy | 7 comments Sounds like a fine idea.

message 3: by [deleted user] (last edited Oct 29, 2011 07:56AM) (new)

"Not all Indie Authors are going to be this open for critiques, but then not all Indie Authors are in a position to grow and learn."

Thomas, I totally disagree with this statement. Serious authors ARE always willing to learn and grow. We just choose the method best suited to us. And using Beta Readers isn't suitable to every author.

Frankly, I rather deal with those a bit more knowledgeable in writing than open up a free for all and craft my stories based upon opinions. Whereas I appreciate input and suggestions, my stories are just that, my stories. I shift all input through my ideas and the desired way I want to tell my stories. They are not a collaborative effort.

Just like too many cooks spoil the broth, so it can be with Beta Readers. Everyone's taste and opinions are different and no author can please everyone.

message 4: by Thomas (new)

Thomas Wilson (StorytellerTDW) | 4 comments Shawn, I agree with your assessment but I like feed back concerning characters, (like I like that character, want to know more about them, couldn't understand this part of such and such) then when I do the rewrite I can decide what advice I want to take and what I don't. I got the suggestion from reading stuff about writing from Ken Follett. I do believe our stories are our stories! But do you believe If you wanted someone to read a rough draft for their thoughts and suggestions on the piece that Goodreads readers might like to have that opportunity and since they both occupy the same site, would that not be convenient? Also I'm sure there are those with great to good English skills who might not mind - might actually jump at the chance to help aspiring authors improve their books before publishing them. Out of six million members I'm sure a lot of win win situations could be found that would help in cooperation and overall quality of Indie Books being developed.

message 5: by [deleted user] (last edited Oct 29, 2011 08:41AM) (new)

Actually, I don't agree with posting unpublished my work on the internet at all. There is too much piracy. I want to deal with people I trust in a secure setting. So, no, I would not do it on Goodreads.

message 6: by Thomas (new)

Thomas Wilson (StorytellerTDW) | 4 comments It was just an idea. . . To see what people think about it.

message 7: by Peter (new)

Peter (74765525) | 49 comments Thomas: If you could put your suggestion in one sentence, I promise I'll read it.

message 8: by Rowena (new)

Rowena (rowenacherry) | 86 comments Thomas, you possibly ought to run your idea by your intellectual properties attorney.... unless you intend to release your first work as Creative Commons.

My IP attorney counsels me never to give anyone else credit for inspiring a work, or for helping to write a work because they could sue for a percentage of my royalties.

You announced that you plan to "share the wealth" with whoever helps you with your first book. You possibly need to immortalize that in a contract before proceeding with your Beta Readers.

message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

Thomas, if running your work past a few trusted readers suits Stephen King, then give it a go. In my experience the incidence of piracy or attempts to claim royalty on the part of a reader, are practically non existent. Let's face it, as far as piracy is concerned, go for the big names; why bother to trawl through unknowns? Even midlisst names?
Stephen King's wisdom on the subject was to let four or five readers (friends) read his work. If one or more picked up on the same flaw, he would attend to it. If they all picked up on separate flaws, he didn't bother.

message 10: by Susan (new)

Susan Lerner | 23 comments I got some friend/readers for a novel, and it was interesting that they often, separately, picked up on the same problems. They weren't line readers, just commented about characters, pacing, the story line, the writing in general. It helped. But it's nice to have a professional eye, if you can find a good one. I had a bad experience with an expensive and highly recommended editor. She found little to criticize, so it wasn't helpful at all.
I find that one of the best things to do is to put the manuscript aside for a few weeks, as long as you can, and then go back and reread it. Getting away from it will give you a new perspective.
BTw, there is a website that does allow people to post their work and get comments. If I think of it, I'll let you know. I decided not to do it, but it's just what you are asking for.

message 11: by [deleted user] (new)

It's great if you can do both. I have a reader who has always read mine before I sent it off to my agent. The less editorial notes I get back from either agent or publisher the better.

message 12: by Vannessa (new)

Vannessa Anderson (vannessaanderson) S.B. wrote: "I got some friend/readers for a novel, and it was interesting that they often, separately, picked up on the same problems. They weren't line readers, just commented about characters, pacing, the st..."

S.B., it took years for me to find a great editor who is also affordable. And you are right when you say it helps to have a professional eye to read your manuscript. I found an excellent affordable editor at

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