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Thread: Beta or Share Your Work - Options

  1. #1
    Retired and loving it! Puma's Avatar
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    Beta or Share Your Work - Options

    I periodically take a look at the posts requesting beta readers and so often it seems to me the poster would be just as happy, maybe happier, if he or she would post a selection for review and comments in Share Your Work instead.

    Share Your Work (SYW) is open 24/7 for AW members to post first chapters of novels or non-fiction works, short stories, query letters, synopses, and even paragraphs and tidbits of works in progress for review and comment by their peers. There are some excellent critiquers in Share Your Work who are tremendously helpful. Share Your Work is an excellent learning tool. If you haven't found SYW yet, it's located just a little farther down the main AW page; it's password protected (easy access for AW members), and sub-divided into genre specific subforums.

    The whole idea of SYW is for posters to get a feel for areas that need to be improved so they can take it from there and improve their entire WIP. Many writers don't realize that adverbs are out of favor, backstory needs to be worked into the story in little bits, infodumps are bad, and switching POV midstream is a not a good thing. The critiquers in Share Your Work help posters see and identify problem areas and help posters become better writers. And, one of the ways to become a better writer is by critiquing the work of others. If you do decide to visit SYW, you're invited (actually encouraged) to try your hand at critquing too. There's also a specific forum in SYW for query letters and synopses.

    If you decide to take a look at posting in SYW, please read the Advice for Newbies main post in the Main SYW forum at the top of the page before posting. The Advice contains fifty points which will make your SYW experience more pleasant and beneficial.

    On the other hand, if you've cleaned your WIP up to the point it is spotless - no grammatical or typographical errors, no problems with pronouns and antecendants, no switching verb tenses, and a thoroughly engaging story that comes to life - then you might want to ask for a beta reader to look over your entire manuscript instead.

    There are many options for help here on AW. I wanted to make sure you were aware of an excellent one that is sometimes missed or overlooked by newcomers. Puma
    Last edited by Puma; 03-01-2009 at 07:08 AM.
    "Nothing ventured, nothing gained."

  2. #2
    bold enough for both those XXs
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    Please see my last post in the "Beta Question's" (sic) thread.

    What you're saying here is that the "Share Your Work" subforum offers critiques of beginnings and offers advice to beginners, and that beta readers are only for finished, polished works.

    Does that mean that Absolute Write not welcome writers seeking, or offering, critiques of works in progress in chunks smaller than complete works and larger than the kinds of excerpts that fit easily in a single forum post? Does it not welcome feedback on structure and plotting or character development in works still in progress?

    I hope that is not the case.

    This forum is called Beta Readers, Writing Partners, and Advisors. Maybe the name for what I'm looking for would be "advisor." Or "critique partner," especially if we're going to exchange work.

    Since chunks of the size I'm talking about are best exchanged privately rather than posted, this subforum is probably the best place in the forum to seek or volunteer as a critiquer of that sort. We don't have to use the word "beta reader" if that means only readers of finished works.

    By the way, I'm happy to critique works at any stage. We'd just need to negotiate what kind of feedback the writer is looking for and whether that's a kind of feedback I'm interested and competent to offer.

  3. #3
    Retired and loving it! Puma's Avatar
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    Beta reader, as I understand the term, is a non-related to the author person who reads the entire final manuscript and offers final comments and suggestions before the writer begins the querying process. The betas are the last people to read the WIP, other than the author, prior to hoped for publication. There can be beta readers after the draft is first completed and at other stages in the process. Beta reader is a term used throughout the writing community - not just here.

    Share Your Work is not limited to beginners (there's some pretty accomplished writing showing up in SYW) or beginnings. Everyone critiquing in SYW is taking time away from their own writing to give comments and help to people seeking it. Most AW members are working, have families, and are writing themselves. That's why shorter posts are preferable. In SYW there's no committment to do any more than read and possibly comment on a post - if the critiquer chooses to. With a beta reader there's an individual agreement to read the entire manuscript. Betas have to have a lot of time available.

    AW is a vehicle for individuals to work together and help each other on writing. Questions on plot, character development, etc. frequently show up in other forums such as writing novels and genre specific forums. There's no one forum that's all encompassing - Share Your Work is probably the closest.

    My post above did not cover writing partners and advisors which are distinctly different. From looking at your post in the question thread, Lexxi, I'd say what you're after is an advisor, someone to help you with the story ideas but not write it. Puma
    Last edited by Puma; 03-01-2009 at 05:52 PM.
    "Nothing ventured, nothing gained."

  4. #4
    Moderator AW Moderator Maryn's Avatar
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    I'd like to second the recommendation for posting work at the appropriate Share Your work board. While beginners can learn a great deal from the Advice for Newbies post, they'll learn more from feedback--and so do many of us who are not at all new to writing.

    Besides valuable input about a particular chapter or story, I've found SYW a great place to identify potential beta readers. By cruising my genres' boards (not just my own posts' replies), I can determine who's in sync with me, who just doesn't seem to get it, whose advice is vague, who's got great suggestions for improvement, who's good on overview, who's the nitpicker to die for, and so on.

    Depending on what I think my work most needs, that's the pool from which I hope I can draw betas. I PM a few. Even when someone has to refuse due to time constraints or other commitments, most are pleased to have been asked, especially when I tell them which of their critiques led to my request. Who doesn't like to hear his or her efforts praised?

    In my own experience, this works a whole lot better than a writer who's never posted work (or posted much on any of the writing boards) seeking beta readers at that board. Few people are able to commit to beta-ing a whole novel without having seen enough of a person's writing to determine whether they're a good fit, you know?

    Maryn, able to get betas
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  5. #5
    figuring it all out sleo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maryn View Post
    I'd like to second the recommendation for posting work at the appropriate Share Your work board. While beginners can learn a great deal from the Advice for Newbies post, they'll learn more from feedback--and so do many of us who are not at all new to writing.

    Besides valuable input about a particular chapter or story, I've found SYW a great place to identify potential beta readers. By cruising my genres' boards (not just my own posts' replies), I can determine who's in sync with me, who just doesn't seem to get it, whose advice is vague, who's got great suggestions for improvement, who's good on overview, who's the nitpicker to die for, and so on.

    Depending on what I think my work most needs, that's the pool from which I hope I can draw betas. I PM a few. Even when someone has to refuse due to time constraints or other commitments, most are pleased to have been asked, especially when I tell them which of their critiques led to my request. Who doesn't like to hear his or her efforts praised?

    In my own experience, this works a whole lot better than a writer who's never posted work (or posted much on any of the writing boards) seeking beta readers at that board. Few people are able to commit to beta-ing a whole novel without having seen enough of a person's writing to determine whether they're a good fit, you know?

    Maryn, able to get betas
    The Share Your Work thread is very helpful. I posted one story there and got great and helpful suggestions and now have posted another. And I love your signature, LOL. Too too true.
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  6. #6
    Great Scott Member James81's Avatar
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    I think that even with a finished, polished work, that someone seeking a beta reader should perhaps post the first chapter *somewhere* when they are seeking a beta reader.

    Beta reading is one of those things that I love to do IF the story is interesting and the writing is good. Heck, so long as the writing is good, even if the story itself isn't my cup of tea, I'll still enjoy reading the piece.

    Trouble is, that sometimes when you offer to beta read and you get like a chapter into it and you realize that it's something you don't want to read more, and then you feel guilty coming back telling the person that you just can't finish it.

    So having a qualification upfront where beta readers find YOU based on your first chapter, would definately make the process smoother methinks.
    Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate. --Carl Jung

  7. #7
    Grateful for the day cooeedownunder's Avatar
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    I second the putting up of at least a first chapter or the opening scene in the SWY formum related to the genre. If SWY critters can't get through it, or offer constuctive advise that you don't want to hear, than a beta might not be the way to go until the issues picked up by SYW critters are resolved.
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    Wielder of the Witchblade Rowan's Avatar
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    I don't mind beta reading a work that hasn't been through the SYW gauntlet. If I'm not sure that it'll be my cup of tea, I just ask for the first 1-3 chapters and go from there. That said - SYW forum is great but it's not for everyone.
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  9. #9
    Absolute sagebrush Ken Schneider's Avatar
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    Beta.
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  10. #10
    practical experience, FTW
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    I have been wondering through some experience with Betas whether some of them think that they are being asked to edit a manuscript, not just read and comment. I understand that the definition of a beta (they also work in softwear as beta users) are people who read the book as though it is going out onto the shelves that way. They send their claims of "bugs" to the author-- It is like a "reading committee" before the final draft.

  11. #11
    Moderator AW Moderator Maryn's Avatar
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    Use Her Name, I've beta read enough times that my experience is fairly broad. Some people really do give polished works, and while my natural tendency is to nit-pick, the work is really quite well edited before I get it.

    Other people clearly have not run spell check, do not know how to punctuate dialogue, have not formatted the manuscript, yada-yada-yada. Yet they seek a beta reader rather than presenting a smaller portion for critique, for reasons they do not share. When I get a manuscript like that after agreeing to beta, I critique the first chapter, or the first 15-25 pp., then return it with the kind-but-no-nonsense notation that this needs a lot more work, including straight-out critique and editing, before the whole is ready for a beta. I try to instruct a little, link to sites teaching about some of their most common goofs, and offer encouragement to try again.

    Some of those people may be hurt or angry, but I figure as long as I was truthful and not cruel about it, I've done a service, even if they don't believe it now.

    Maryn, experienced critic
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  12. #12
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Hello,

    I feel as though maybe I am missing something here, but I can't figure out from all these posts how to actually find a beta reader. I am looking for someone to read the first 3-5 chapters of my WIP, which is literary womens' fiction. Anyone? Anyone?

  13. #13
    Plays with fire. thewakingself's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThisIsMyUserName View Post
    I feel as though maybe I am missing something here, but I can't figure out from all these posts how to actually find a beta reader. I am looking for someone to read the first 3-5 chapters of my WIP, which is literary womens' fiction. Anyone? Anyone?
    Hello, and welcome to AW. You should start a new thread under this forum since you probably won't get any hits by burying your request here.

    Click "New Thread" (located on the left just above the dark blue header titled "Threads in Forum: Beta Readers, Mentors, and Writing Partners". There's also a "New Thread" button near the bottom of the page above "Display Options"). Next, post information about what you're looking for, what your MS is about, etc., with your genre in the thread title. When you're done, hit "Submit New Thread".

    Here are a couple stickies that'll help you navigate:

    http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/...ad.php?t=66315

    http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/...ad.php?t=14331

    Hope this helps... and good luck!!
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  14. #14
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Thank you, thewakingself!

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    journo turned novelist harriet47's Avatar
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    Writers who want to post their work on SYW should know that they will need to have at least 50 posts sprinkled around AW before they'll be allowed to submit their work to an SYW forum.

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    practical experience, FTW Rhonda9080's Avatar
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    I just got a tremendous amount of help on my nightmare ch 1 in SYW. My problem though: I tend to write longer chapters (around 6,000 words), and the limit to around 2,000 words is hard if you need a cohesive read for plot and structure. Its great for editing help though! I'm trying to cut, and boy did I get some helpful feedback! I was so inspired, I've lost 1,000 words, and only in first half of chapter. But so far, no takers on Pt 2 of ch, which is the worst part!
    So - my question - is a beta reader appropriate for help in deciding where a novel can lose some fat? I'm not expecting line-editing, but just suggestions of redundancies, things I think I need but don't etc.
    Is that on the record, or off?

  17. #17
    banned as an incurable tosspot
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    I found one beta reader particularly helpful in removing fat from one novel. Sometimes we know too much about a character and we hate to cut, but it often has to be done.

    Carmy

  18. #18
    practical experience, FTW
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    As great as SYW is, I can imagine some people feel antsy about posting there. I've been lurking the forums for a while and people keep putting such a huge emphasis on "you should crit more than post your own stuff in SYW!!" that a noob gets the feeling that you could be shunned or in trouble for posting there, that people will peg you as a drive-by.

    I know it probably sounds weird, but I'm a little afraid that everyone is gonna hate on me if I post more than one or two things in there.

  19. #19
    great posts... thanks for the heads up!

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  20. #20
    Let's see what's on special today.. Bufty's Avatar
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    Critting the work of other folk is a good way of learning how to read one's own work more critically.

    I think you are unduly anxious and misinterpreting the highlighted phrase below.

    Quote Originally Posted by Anacry View Post
    As great as SYW is, I can imagine some people feel antsy about posting there. I've been lurking the forums for a while and people keep putting such a huge emphasis on "you should crit more than post your own stuff in SYW!!" that a noob gets the feeling that you could be shunned or in trouble for posting there, that people will peg you as a drive-by.

    I know it probably sounds weird, but I'm a little afraid that everyone is gonna hate on me if I post more than one or two things in there.
    Everything yields to treatment.

  21. #21
    phoenix blazing Parametric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anacry View Post
    As great as SYW is, I can imagine some people feel antsy about posting there. I've been lurking the forums for a while and people keep putting such a huge emphasis on "you should crit more than post your own stuff in SYW!!" that a noob gets the feeling that you could be shunned or in trouble for posting there, that people will peg you as a drive-by.
    People wouldn't need to worry if they, well... critted. Want to post something? Crit a few pieces. Want to post something else? Crit a few more pieces. It's a simple way of making everyone happy and encouraging them to help you.

  22. #22
    figuring it all out ShashaWriter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Puma View Post
    I periodically take a look at the posts requesting beta readers and so often it seems to me the poster would be just as happy, maybe happier, if he or she would post a selection for review and comments in Share Your Work instead.

    Share Your Work (SYW) is open 24/7 for AW members to post first chapters of novels or non-fiction works, short stories, query letters, synopses, and even paragraphs and tidbits of works in progress for review and comment by their peers. There are some excellent critiquers in Share Your Work who are tremendously helpful. Share Your Work is an excellent learning tool. If you haven't found SYW yet, it's located just a little farther down the main AW page; it's password protected (easy access for AW members), and sub-divided into genre specific subforums.

    The whole idea of SYW is for posters to get a feel for areas that need to be improved so they can take it from there and improve their entire WIP. Many writers don't realize that adverbs are out of favor, backstory needs to be worked into the story in little bits, infodumps are bad, and switching POV midstream is a not a good thing. The critiquers in Share Your Work help posters see and identify problem areas and help posters become better writers. And, one of the ways to become a better writer is by critiquing the work of others. If you do decide to visit SYW, you're invited (actually encouraged) to try your hand at critquing too. There's also a specific forum in SYW for query letters and synopses.

    If you decide to take a look at posting in SYW, please read the Advice for Newbies main post in the Main SYW forum at the top of the page before posting. The Advice contains fifty points which will make your SYW experience more pleasant and beneficial.

    On the other hand, if you've cleaned your WIP up to the point it is spotless - no grammatical or typographical errors, no problems with pronouns and antecendants, no switching verb tenses, and a thoroughly engaging story that comes to life - then you might want to ask for a beta reader to look over your entire manuscript instead.

    There are many options for help here on AW. I wanted to make sure you were aware of an excellent one that is sometimes missed or overlooked by newcomers. Puma

    quite informative. . . now it's about getting 50 posts first. =)
    The measure of a man is not what he can do for himself, but what he does for the man who can do nothing for him.

  23. #23
    figuring it all out ShashaWriter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by harriet47 View Post
    Writers who want to post their work on SYW should know that they will need to have at least 50 posts sprinkled around AW before they'll be allowed to submit their work to an SYW forum.

    your avatar is awesome btw
    The measure of a man is not what he can do for himself, but what he does for the man who can do nothing for him.

  24. #24
    has alligator skin David.Justiss's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by harriet47 View Post
    Writers who want to post their work on SYW should know that they will need to have at least 50 posts sprinkled around AW before they'll be allowed to submit their work to an SYW forum.
    This is not a nice thing for me to learn since I came to these forums as a place to find a beta-reader and/or get critique on excerpts. I'm already concerned that joining this forum will be another timesink for me and take away from time doing more important things (like actually working on my stories).

  25. #25
    Moderator AW Moderator Sophia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by David.Justiss View Post
    This is not a nice thing for me to learn since I came to these forums as a place to find a beta-reader and/or get critique on excerpts. I'm already concerned that joining this forum will be another timesink for me and take away from time doing more important things (like actually working on my stories).
    Perhaps look at it this way: There are boards and threads on AW that deal with the business side of writing; with how to interact with agents and editors in a professional manner; with the possible implications of advances in technology and the changing economy on a working writer's life. As well, there are sections where work from every genre is read and explored, and where the basics of a writer's toolbox (i.e. grammar and syntax, and techniques of writing that others have found helpful) are laid out and discussed. Not to mention the SYW boards, where work from every genre is critiqued, and members gain insights into their own writing by critiquing that of others.

    If you spend, say, an hour a week reading and participating here, you could build up your knowledge of many aspects of a writer's life, which can only help you.

    Finally, there is always the possibility that you will make friends here.

    AW is a community for writers. Pretty much everyone here is working on their own stories, and considers doing that important. Effective time management is a very common issue that is discussed often. If you don't think that participating in order to get critiques is the best way for you to spend your time, that is understandable; it just means AW isn't right for you, just for now. You're very welcome to jump in at another time, when it might fit your circumstances better.

    I hope you'll consider sticking around.

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