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Thread: What if your Beta experience did not go as planned?

  1. #26
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Since receiving my feedbacks I am rewriting to say the least. I am very much over myself and plan to take to heart what both beta's have said. Hey, they basically said the same thing and I asked for it.

    My crushed heart is healing rather quickly.

    I want to add that I've had several requests from other members willing to beta read. I always respond to each and every one of those. I've let them know that I am reworking the story so I really don't want to send it out until I've done some rewrites.

    I think it is important to respond to everyone because, frankly, its just good manners.
    KayJae

    Staying true to myself and enjoying each day as it comes.

  2. #27
    Moderator AW Moderator Maryn's Avatar
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    I agree with HelloKiddo. While the second critique may have seemed gentler, the first one provided absolutely solid advice which, when followed, would have improved the writing. It takes either time or a thickened skin to get past the hurt, though.

    I'm kind of a curmudgeon about critique, and a beta read is critique to the nth power, a serious investment of my time. I won't do it for someone who's a stranger to me. I won't do it for someone who's pretty new to AW. I won't do it for someone who needs a lot of work on writing mechanics, who hasn't yet mastered punctuation and run a spell check.

    I'm aware that some people think that makes me snooty. That's cool. They don't need to know that I've invested hundreds of hours teaching beginners how to punctuate dialogue and other basics, and that's why I feel it's somebody else's turn.

    I strongly, strongly recommend posting a first chapter for public critique, and seeking your beta readers from those whose critique style works for you. I also advise telling betas and other critics outright if you need gentle handling and much encouragement. If people know your needs, they'll often meet or exceed them.

    Maryn, still easily stung by criticism when it's correct
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  3. #28
    At least I don't need backing-up Samantha's_Song's Avatar
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    I don't think that's snooty at all. Critiquing/beta-reading takes up a lot of time, time that could be spent on your own writing and/or other hobbies. Betas aren't paid for their time, they do it out of the goodness of their hearts to help others make the best out of their novels, so it's only right that betas have their own sets of rules in what works they will take on.

    Quote Originally Posted by Maryn View Post
    I'm aware that some people think that makes me snooty.







  4. #29
    Moderator AW Moderator Sophia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KayJae View Post
    I'm looking for a reader who will tear it apart. I plan to seek publication.

    ...

    I felt attacked. No lie. She didn’t love it? It wasn’t perfect? It couldn’t possibly be true. The truth hurt but I needed to know more. Something was missing for me from this beta read.

    ...

    Then I got the reply from my second beta reader. This is what I was looking for, the help I needed. The funny thing is, the first beta reader said the same things. It was the instruction and suggestions that I needed along with the critique.

    ...

    When I sat down to rewrite, I was excited to make the changes. I knew I had the information I needed and a good idea of what needed done. Two beta reads, both say the same things, but one I could connect with personally.

    I wanted to quote these parts of your post as they are an example of something that worries me about doing crits. I know that your first quote wasn't all of your request, so this maybe doesn't apply exactly to you: I have seen people ask for feedback, but what they seem to actually want and expect is feedback plus a writing tutor to explain how to fix any perceived problems. When they get just the feedback as they asked for, as with your first critique, it feels to them like a poor critique. I think this is unfair on the critiquers. It's okay to want suggestions on how to fix things, but I think the author must state upfront that this is what they're looking for. I know that I like doing crits and giving feedback, but I rarely feel comfortable giving actual writing advice beyond referring the author to certain writing books. I'd be mortified to be the first critiquer you quoted, who gave you what you asked for, but had their crit posted as having something missing!

  5. #30
    Lost in mental space. Namatu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ElaraSophia View Post
    I have seen people ask for feedback, but what they seem to actually want and expect is feedback plus a writing tutor to explain how to fix any perceived problems. When they get just the feedback as they asked for, as with your first critique, it feels to them like a poor critique. I think this is unfair on the critiquers. It's okay to want suggestions on how to fix things, but I think the author must state upfront that this is what they're looking for.
    Exactly. I don't want to waste my time providing results that aren't what the author wants and/or will use. It's important for the author to discuss up front what his expectations are from a critique and, in my opinion, provide the critiquer with an "opt out" clause in the event she finds herself not up to or not interested in tackling those expectations once she has the project in hand. (Gender usage in this sentence selected at random.) My thinking on the latter point is that a critique that becomes a chore, reluctantly given, will have limited value.

  6. #31
    Five by Five katiemac's Avatar
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    I think, should KayJae return to this thread, she'll get the point you all are making.

    I agree with all of you, which is why I edited KayJae's original post and removed both posted critiques. [Chasing the Horizon, who has acknowledged earlier in this thread one of the critiques was hers, did not have her quoted post edited.] For the record, remember that you can use the Report Post function when you have a problem with a post. I had a jam-packed last couple of days and wasn't checking the boards. The Report function sends notifications to the mods via e-mail so we can handle things faster.

  7. #32
    Five by Five katiemac's Avatar
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    Closing this up. Frankly I'm disappointed to see this disagreement may have progressed beyond AW for what I saw as an honest slip up.

    For the record, I have sent KayJae a PM explaining, as everyone on the boards should be aware, that we discourage posting private communication - including PMs, rep points, e-mails, etc.

    I may reopen it later, but it seems to have gone beyond the original topic anyhow.

  8. #33
    Five by Five katiemac's Avatar
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    Reopening this thread. I've removed the posts, aside from my own, that were not topical. If you choose to return to this conversation, please stay on task. I think this is a very useful discussion and I do not want to have to close it again.

  9. #34
    Bad grammar make me [sic] mommyjo2's Avatar
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    I had the opposite experience - I WAS a beta, sent my feedback to the writer, and heard NOTHING. Sent her a PM to make sure she got my email - NOTHING.

    Feeling very used...I was a one night stand!

    Writers, don't abuse your betas. At least acknowledge that you saw their feedback and thank them for their time!
    To write, or not to write, that is the procastination.

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  10. #35
    In Search of the Throne of Stars Ralph Pines's Avatar
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    Agreed. Anyone who is willing to go through one of my WIPs deserves a medal!

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  11. #36
    At least I don't need backing-up Samantha's_Song's Avatar
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    Yep, been there, done that, three times so far. Everyone else I've beta-read for has been brilliant and made me feel like it was worthwhile.

    Quote Originally Posted by mommyjo2 View Post
    I had the opposite experience - I WAS a beta, sent my feedback to the writer, and heard NOTHING. Sent her a PM to make sure she got my email - NOTHING.

    Feeling very used...I was a one night stand!

    Writers, don't abuse your betas. At least acknowledge that you saw their feedback and thank them for their time!







  12. #37
    Bored Fanatic Straka's Avatar
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    I've had several friends express interest in reading my works, which I was very excited about. So I spent the 40 bucks to print it out at Staples, only to ever have them read the first 10 pages. Even if people like reading, that doesn't mean they had the determination to slug through an early draft.

    I would suggest giving potential betas, maybe a dozen pages. See if they first of all have the willpower to read it, then you'll also get to see the quality off their comments. If all goes well, give them more.
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  13. #38
    At least I don't need backing-up Samantha's_Song's Avatar
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    But surely that's up to the beta to decide? For myself, I won't take anything less than the whole novel; I will not invest my time in something that I'm not allowed to see to the end, I would feel I have no reason to. I'm probably the only beta who feels this way, but I do and that's that. If I don't actually like the work after a few pages or so, I will contact the writer and tell them why I've stopped reading and commenting.

    Quote Originally Posted by Straka View Post
    I would suggest giving potential betas, maybe a dozen pages. See if they first of all have the willpower to read it, then you'll also get to see the quality off their comments. If all goes well, give them more.







  14. #39
    JOAT Bladespark's Avatar
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    I just wish that more people could be clear about what they want and when, and not be all... I don't know, all afraid I'll be offended if they say when they REALLY want. I had a friend give me a story to beta, and when I asked if there were any time constraints or could I take my time, she said to take as long as I liked.

    Three days later she messages me asking if it's done yet, because actually the deadline for the contest she's entering it in is that day, and they require a beta read before it can be entered, so she really hopes it's done.

    I could have had it finished the day she sent it to me, but because she basically lied and said I had all the time I needed when in fact I had three days, I had to rush through it that night.

    I was more than a little annoyed about that, let me tell you. And I still don't understand exactly what happened there? Why could she not say "I need this in three days"?

  15. #40
    Bored Fanatic Straka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Samantha's_Song View Post
    But surely that's up to the beta to decide? For myself, I won't take anything less than the whole novel; I will not invest my time in something that I'm not allowed to see to the end, I would feel I have no reason to. I'm probably the only beta who feels this way, but I do and that's that. If I don't actually like the work after a few pages or so, I will contact the writer and tell them why I've stopped reading and commenting.
    Well whatever writer gets you as a beta is lucky. I've been disappointed a couple of times, so I'm generally a little more selective with betas. Plus it's expensive to print out a lot of copies.In terms of turn around times, I don't bother them. The occasional nudge maybe but I expect them to take about 2 months to finish a completed manuscript.
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  16. #41
    Live a little. Write a lot. Karen Junker's Avatar
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    I read and critique manuscripts as an editor for a small publisher. When I agree to beta read someone's work, I expect to give it as much attention as I would one of my professional projects. I find I don't have the time to read something for someone who just wants an opinion about the work in general. I like to comment on grammar, punctuation, spelling, word usage, point of view, character growth arcs, plot holes and anything else I can come up with...

    So, I recently had someone send me a bit of their work and it had some problems. Problems that will likely stop an agent or editor from reading very far in the work. I didn't read the whole manuscript because they only wanted a very general opinion and I'm afraid I couldn't give one that would be very encouraging.

    I like it when my time and effort is respected. I've mostly had very good experiences with doing beta reading for folks on this forum and I plan to do much more of it!
    Karen Junker
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  17. #42
    At least I don't need backing-up Samantha's_Song's Avatar
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    Thank you very much Straka, and I can honestly say that I've had some brilliant stories to go through for people as a beta reader too.

    I've also become very selective on what I take on to read, as I've always got lots of people who want my services. But I think I get the best of the crop.

    I do all o my beta work via email and Word doc, it works for me and the writers I beta for.

    Quote Originally Posted by Straka View Post
    Well whatever writer gets you as a beta is lucky. I've been disappointed a couple of times, so I'm generally a little more selective with betas. Plus it's expensive to print out a lot of copies.In terms of turn around times, I don't bother them. The occasional nudge maybe but I expect them to take about 2 months to finish a completed manuscript.







  18. #43
    practical experience, FTW firedrake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Straka View Post
    Well whatever writer gets you as a beta is lucky. I've been disappointed a couple of times, so I'm generally a little more selective with betas. Plus it's expensive to print out a lot of copies.In terms of turn around times, I don't bother them. The occasional nudge maybe but I expect them to take about 2 months to finish a completed manuscript.
    Yup, Sam has beta'd a couple of my books and I consider myself very lucky.

  19. #44
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    I contacted a person who volunteered on the Willing Beta thread. I wanted someone to read my opener, and give me his or her general/overall thoughts. I offered to reciprocate for this particular person. He/she sent me an opener in exchange for mine. I read and commented on it. The person sent me additional chapters of their story, but never, ever gave me even a single word comment on even the opening paragraph of mine. And he/she had offered services on Willing Betas, not me.

  20. #45
    At least I don't need backing-up Samantha's_Song's Avatar
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    You're most welcome, Firedrake. And I don't just leave it at that, do I, I still nibble at your arse about any changes you've made, even when I'm not actually beta reading for you.

    Quote Originally Posted by firedrake View Post
    Yup, Sam has beta'd a couple of my books and I consider myself very lucky.







  21. #46
    Needs More Hands.... Fallen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Karen Junker View Post
    I like it when my time and effort is respected. I've mostly had very good experiences with doing beta reading for folks on this forum and I plan to do much more of it!
    Agreed. The authors I beta for are a good and talented bunch. We work to a specific turnaround time (between 1-3 chapters a week), sometimes it gets disrupted (my end), but notice is always given and new dates set up. So respect comes in to it a lot, both ways.

  22. #47
    figuring it all out J. M. Hunter's Avatar
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    What to do, what to do...

    If I didn't set parameters for a specific timeframe, is it rude to follow up after, say, five or six weeks if you have heard nothing and ask how it's coming?

    Here are the circumstances:

    I posted a request for a beta reader - 2 people volunteered.

    I sent my manuscript to the first person 5 weeks ago and he/she got back with me about two days later with a couple of pages of sample comments to see if they were helpful. I agreed that they were, and then never heard back again. I sent a follow up 2 weeks ago, but the person never responded.

    I exchanged manuscripts with another person 5 weeks ago and sent 5 chapters of critiques on the person’s manuscript, but never received anything back on mine. 3 weeks ago the person let me know that he/she would have feedback on mine in a “few days” but I never heard anything back. I didn’t follow up on this one, but I also stopped sending my critiques on his/her manuscript.

    So, what do you guys think? I really appreciate these two people volunteering, and was excited about getting feedback. Should I follow up again or write them off as “no-go”? Should I continue to critique the second person’s even though I haven’t received any critique in return?

    This is my first experience with the beta process and I don't want to do something wrong or treat someone rudely, especially when these people volunteered their time to help me...
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  23. #48
    I think I'll jump in here with a little encouragement. I found my first ever critique partner on AW. She was (and is) fabulous. I was impressed with her work and grateful for everything she taught me. I eventually asked her to apply to a press where I had a couple of books contracted.

    She was hired, and now gets paid to put up with me.

    Sadly, she doesn't have time for the CP gig anymore. I'm happy for her though it stinks for me. lol
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  24. #49
    AW Addict nitaworm's Avatar
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    I've had lots of people offer to beta when I send out the call to friends and family - however only a few have come through.

    So I decided to join a critique group that only met for 3 months, every Saturday to get feedback.

    After going through this I wanted to help other writers and have beta for another writer here. I gave the stipulation that I would commit to 30 pages at a time. I actually finished the book and enjoyed it, and will definately do it again. I tend to want to beta stuff different than what I write, so it stays interesting to me and I don't make comparisons. It is a learning experience also, because I realize how to improve my writing and I get better at editing.

    So I would suggest, if you are having problems getting and keeping betas -- do someone else a favor and beta for them, while they beta for you.

  25. #50
    It's cold out there dlparker's Avatar
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    I have one great beta reader right now found on Absolute WRite.

    The other--also found here--didn't bother to respond when sent the manuscript. I followed up after a time with a polite inquiry, and still no answer. Never got any answer at all.

    It's very disconcerting to an author to have the reader drop out in silence THEN. Maybe she didn't like the work. That's fine with me; all she had to say was "decided not to do it after all" (or some white lie if she's too nervous to say it didn't suit).

    But to drop out after a writer's sent his/her work without a word is unforgivable, to me. It leaves the writer hanging, thinking, was it that bad? Is he/she DOING SOMETHING with my work?

    So please, if you're a beta, be responsible, and tell the author when you want to back out. If most authors are like me, I'll send a profuse and sincere thanks anyway.

    I'd like to say who this beta was so other authors will know this person didn't respond... but I won't, of course. I'm left wondering: something happened in her life? Didn't like the story (fortunately I only sent first short chapter)? Copying my story for all she's worth? Did an email I sent get misinterpreted? Who knows.

    But, lose one, win one. The other beta's just great.

    - Danielle

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