April 26, 2018 at 2:28 pm #346942
Where are they found? I’ve seen some writers’ forums that have special sections for members to offer their services, but other than that I’m stumped.
Should family/friends be avoided? I tend to think so unless the writer has extremely thick skin – writers are creative, and we all know how those creative kinds are. 😆 😆 😆
What is considered fair compensation? My single foray into BR usage I offered a copy of the book when published, and have yet to pay my debt.
What questions should they answer? Or should they be left to their own devices when providing feedback?
Is there a consensus as to how many to use?
Any other comments on using Beta Readers?
April 26, 2018 at 5:40 pm #655884
> Where are they found? I’ve seen some writers’ forums that have special
> sections for members to offer their services, but other than that I’m
Writers’ forums are a great source – not necessarily because of the special sections, but because one gets to know individual writers, and some may be willing to beta for other writers.
NOTE: When I use the term “beta”, I’m referring to people who will look over someone’s projects at various stages of completion, not just the “final reader” one uses before submission.
> Should family/friends be avoided? I tend to think so unless the writer has
> extremely thick skin – writers are creative, and we all know how those
> creative kinds are. 😆 😆 😆
Actually, family/friends should be avoided because they tend to be too kind. It puts them in an awkward position – no matter how honest you tell them to be, they don’t want to cause friction. And of course, there’s always the possibility that personalities get tossed into the mix – they can’t separate the relationship from the author.
> What is considered fair compensation? My single foray into BR usage I
> offered a copy of the book when published, and have yet to pay my debt.
I wouldn’t pay anything for a beta reader. If I’m going to pay someone, I want a professional editor.
> What questions should they answer? Or should they be left to their own
> devices when providing feedback?
That should be up to the author, and you need to be specific when discussing it with your (potential) beta. From my own experience, there’s nothing more frustrating than spending hours doing what one thinks the author wants, and then have them come back and say, “Oh, well, I guess what I really wanted was…”.
> Is there a consensus as to how many to use?
I would try for 3, no more than 5, but it depends on how well you know them, also. If you have an odd number, you can have a “tie-breaker” for conflicting advice 😉 . But you don’t want too many because then you’re writing by committee. I had 2, but I knew their writing style and preferences, and knew them well enough personally so discussions were easy.
> Any other comments on using Beta Readers?
Don’t argue with them. If you don’t understand a comment, ask for clarification. Otherwise, take the advice or don’t, but don’t try to prove them wrong. Always always always remember to thank them, no matter how useful you thought they were. They at least took some time to try to be helpful. And, as with comments in a forum setting, never take their comments personally. It’s about the writing, not the author. 🙂
April 27, 2018 at 10:28 am #655885
In my experience, far and away, getting good beta readers is the hardest thing of the whole process. People’s lives are busy. I’ve given out lots of manuscripts/proofs over the years to hear, I started it but this and that came up and… Or, I thought I would have more time, sorry. Or, they read it and say, I loved it. My goal is to have about 3-5 beta readers per draft. I usually go through two drafts before I want people to read. Then I reach out, take the notes, see what is consistent in those notes, make changes, then find another set of eyes to give me notes and see what is consistent. You know in your gut when people hit upon something.
What I ask from my readers is, how’s the pace? How is the dialogue? Do the characters work? If you see anything egregious in grammar, style, etc… please make note of it. I have a person who is my grammar guru for the finer things.
One of the more humorous notes was: You like names that begin with J – Jason, Jenny, June, Jack, Jill, Jen. It never dawned on me when I was writing. I changed three of them.
I paid a service once. For the notes I received, I have received better or the same for free. Not saying they didn’t do a good job, I just confirmed that they didn’t do a better job than a good beta reader will do.
Friends and Family – I know who to use now. I want a critical eye. I’ve been involved in the world of art and politics for a long time, so my skin is thick and rough. I want to hear it, the good the bad and the ugly.
All good beta readers get a thank you in my acknowledgments.
May 3, 2018 at 11:39 am #655886
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