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Paid Beta Reader Services : Tips and Advice • Page 2 • Writing Forum | WritersDigest.com

Paid Beta Reader Services

Here's the place to share a writing or marketing tip you've used successfully and want to pass along.
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shadowwalker
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Re: Paid Beta Reader Services

Postby shadowwalker » Wed Jun 22, 2016 10:51 pm

"It seems rather like wanting to be ... a writer, rather than wanting to write. It should be a by-product, not a thing in itself. Otherwise, it's just an ego trip." - Roger Zelazny

It's really not that hard. Just tell me a story.

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cynicalwanderer
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Re: Paid Beta Reader Services

Postby cynicalwanderer » Thu Jun 23, 2016 5:00 am

"I've stopped giving advice. Even when people ask for it, they resent getting it." -Ross Macdonald.

socialleper
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Re: Paid Beta Reader Services

Postby socialleper » Thu Jun 23, 2016 3:58 pm


socialleper
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Re: Paid Beta Reader Services

Postby socialleper » Thu Jun 23, 2016 4:05 pm


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shadowwalker
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Re: Paid Beta Reader Services

Postby shadowwalker » Thu Jun 23, 2016 10:42 pm

"It seems rather like wanting to be ... a writer, rather than wanting to write. It should be a by-product, not a thing in itself. Otherwise, it's just an ego trip." - Roger Zelazny

It's really not that hard. Just tell me a story.

James A. Ritchie
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Re: Paid Beta Reader Services

Postby James A. Ritchie » Sun Jun 26, 2016 7:09 pm

Unless you're planning to self-publish, paying for a beta is a horrible idea. Even if you self-publish, there's no guarantee of quality.

Beta readers, other than for basic mistakes in grammar, or for overlooked details such as a character who had red hair in chapter three, and then black hair in chapter twelve, are also largely useless. This kind of critique is called an "idiot read", and the idiot in question is the writer. Stephen King gets such critiques. Honest, an editor will catch such things, but if you're self-publishing, or just want to turn in perfectly clean copy, and idiot read can help.

But something most new writers don't understand is that almost every story an editor sees in the slush today has been beta read to death. They still such dead dust bunnies. About forty percent are semi-literate, at best. Another forty percent just aren't any good. Another ten percent are things the editor has seen a thousand time, and simply will not buy. Of the remaining ten percent, most are by pro writers, and have not been beta read, except for the occasional idiot read.

If you want to be a writer, you must know grammar and punctuation. Having someone fix these things will not fix poor writing, and your writing will be poor, if you don't know grammar and punctuation. You also have to know how to tell a good story, how to develop good characters, how to use pace and flow, mood and tone, description, etc. No one else can do these things for you, either.

Despite what many believe, an editor's job is not to do any of these things for a writer. The first editor you run into will be an acquisition editor. That editors is looking for writers who can already do these things very, very well, and who will allow the next editor, a copy and content editor, and easy time.

This next editor will happily fix the occasional mistake in grammar and punctuation. If there are too many mistakes, the writing will be poor. Everything will be poor, and fixing the grammar won't solve the problems. In this case, only the acquisition editor will see the manuscript, and will reject it quickly.

Editors do not want writers who have to use paid services. When an editor buys a novel, that novel will almost certainly need rewriting and revision in order to match what the editor wants. YOU are going to have to do that rewriting and revision. If you need a beta service, you will not be able to do these things on your own, and you're in deep trouble. Editors simply offers suggestions. They do not rewrite or revise. Both are the writer's responsibility.

It strikes me as odd when a writer needs help with grammar and punctuation. These are the basic tools of any writer. Trying to be a writer before you learn these things is like setting up business as a carpenter before you learn how to use a hammer and a saw. It is not going to go well. You have to learn grammar and punctuation first, and be a writer second.

As an editor, the last thing I want or need is a writer who can't do these things for him or herself. A writer does not have to be a grammar guru, but unless he has a solid grasp on the basics, including how to use a comma, he isn't going to give me a novel, or a short story, I want. It's just not going to happen. Writing is like every other profession. Whether it be a carpenter, a plumber, a chef, or an architect, you have to be able to do the work yourself, not hire it done.

You don't have to be perfect in any area, but you must be good enough to get the job done through your own effort and knowledge. Otherwise, just tell whoever you hire to write me a novel.

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shadowwalker
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Re: Paid Beta Reader Services

Postby shadowwalker » Sun Jun 26, 2016 9:21 pm

Well, once again, James, you've painted a whole group of people with one tainted brush. I'd just like to know how you know which stories in the slush pile have been beta'd and which ones haven't.

I beta'd extensively for two writers over the last few years (not to mention a few I worked with on an occasional basis). One of those two has an even dozen books out now (all trade published), the other just got her third book contract (also trade published). I feel terrible that I ruined their writing... :roll:
"It seems rather like wanting to be ... a writer, rather than wanting to write. It should be a by-product, not a thing in itself. Otherwise, it's just an ego trip." - Roger Zelazny

It's really not that hard. Just tell me a story.

socialleper
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Re: Paid Beta Reader Services

Postby socialleper » Mon Jun 27, 2016 1:00 pm

Like I said, I'm not really looking for Betas for low level editing. I guess in the proper use of the word, that is what a Beta Tester does, so what I really want is a Focus Group sort of reader. I want to bounce plot points or characters off of people's heads and see if they react the right way. Its hard to know how people react to things. Its easy to create an idea of it in your head that doesn't translate through your writing.
My particular story isn't a standard linear narrative. There is a paradigm shift at one point that changes what everything the reader has gone through means. Its a gamble and need to see if it works. If its dumb, then I don't want to blow my chance with an agent or publishing company by including it. I also want to be sure I've created enough emotional investment in the characters, so when things go south, the reader feels it at a deep level.
Maybe what I'm looking for are just speed readers with a tolerance for the occasional messed up or missing word.

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Loren Killdeer
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Re: Paid Beta Reader Services

Postby Loren Killdeer » Mon Jul 18, 2016 9:56 am

I think the best way is asking for your friends and family to beta read it.
Anyway, I have read that one way to ask for beta reading is to pay with the same favor. Like, if you beta read my novel per free, I'll read yours.

That is my little advise, I hope it helps.

Best of lucks!
“Substitute 'damn' every time you're inclined to write 'very;' your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.”
― Mark Twain



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