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Thread: Why I Won't Beta Read Your Novel

  1. #301
    figuring it all out sparnols's Avatar
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    I happen to agree with the idea of waiting till you know someone before showing them your work.

    Being a new writer and new at trying to broaden my horizons, I stumbled upon AW. Which has been a great learning process. Being a person that is gramatically challenged I have to agree that sometimes, that can be the best crit. In my opinion anyways. because they do slip through.

    I can also agree that I am probably one of those people who are not ready for "prime time", but one day I would like to be. I have a finished MS, and I am now on the second edit. And I could not imagine being upset or unthankful for help that someone is trying to give me.

    So that being said I would like to thank everyone who has the courage to crit and beta-read someone elses baby. I myself have not been able to gain that courage in fear of being more harm than help. But reading the ones that others post is teaching the skills I need to one day have that courage.

    Now I think I will stop my babbling and go sit in the corner with the others.

  2. #302
    The Surreal Thing AW Moderator Maryn's Avatar
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    You'll notice the corner has a zillion floor pillows and a decent sound system, of course. Plus they get the snacks first.

    Maryn, needing more coffee
    Kindness. It doesn't cost a damned thing. If you're smart, you'll spread that stuff all over the place.

    Brick by Brick, a ménage à trois novel
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  3. #303
    DenturePunk writer bearilou's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maryn View Post
    You'll notice the corner has a zillion floor pillows and a decent sound system, of course. Plus they get the snacks first.

    Maryn, needing more coffee
    *has been here a while and hasn't been terribly shy but goes to the corner anyway because, hey, snacks!*
    Quote Originally Posted by Phaeal View Post
    The first draft is a huge pile of clay that you've laboriously heaped on your table, patting it into a rough shape as you go along. From the second draft onward, you'll cut away chunks, add bits, pat and punch and pinch, until you finally have a gorgeous figure of, oh, Marcus Aurelius. Or a duck. But a damn fine duck.
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  4. #304
    figuring it all out sparnols's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maryn View Post

    Maryn, needing more coffee
    Forget the snacks, Im with her, coffee.....

  5. #305
    The Surreal Thing AW Moderator Maryn's Avatar
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    I've still got a third of the pot. Should I turn the heat back on under it? I will if you'll bring muffins or something...

    Maryn, on a diet so long she dreams of desserts, literally
    Kindness. It doesn't cost a damned thing. If you're smart, you'll spread that stuff all over the place.

    Brick by Brick, a ménage à trois novel
    Taming the Wilde, spotted--and striped--in the wild
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  6. #306
    figuring it all out sparnols's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maryn View Post
    I've still got a third of the pot. Should I turn the heat back on under it? I will if you'll bring muffins or something...
    How about brownies have some baked and waiting to be devoured...

  7. #307
    Let's see what's on special today.. Bufty's Avatar
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    There should also be a thread entitled - Why I won't let you beta read my novel.

    I prefer to at least have some idea of who you are.
    Everything yields to treatment.

  8. #308
    Soaking up information. L.Blake's Avatar
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    I'm the quiet one sitting in the corner absorbing it all.

  9. #309
    The Surreal Thing AW Moderator Maryn's Avatar
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    That's very much how I did things here when I was new. I went from knowing pretty much compared to people in my class or critique group to knowing absolutely nothing compared to the people here at AW.

    And not just about writing, either.

    Maryn, pleasant enough but dim
    Kindness. It doesn't cost a damned thing. If you're smart, you'll spread that stuff all over the place.

    Brick by Brick, a ménage à trois novel
    Taming the Wilde, spotted--and striped--in the wild
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  10. #310
    Making my own sunshine AW Moderator heyjude's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bufty View Post
    There should also be a thread entitled - Why I won't let you beta read my novel.

    I prefer to at least have some idea of who you are.
    Yep, definitely.

  11. #311
    A WIP Ton Lew Lepsnaci's Avatar
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    I've had good experiences with beta readers (on parts of the work) in general, swapping chapters, great feedback in SYW, some from authors. I am still looking out for that great beta match. One day... Writing on
    Last edited by Ton Lew Lepsnaci; 04-15-2012 at 12:24 AM. Reason: contacted mod with the question I posed.
    To tell is human - writing for kids, YA & Y@Heart

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  12. #312
    Bob M
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    As a newbie, I'm enjoying this thread. Not any pain someone experienced but the cautionary tales for our benefit. I'm surprised by the things I might have assumed or wouldn't have.

    For those of you who've busted your butts on a mismatch, a downstream huzzah. Karma awaits. I'm passionate about what I write, but if I'm soliciting critique I'd better expect it.

    AW post #4,
    Bob

  13. #313
    The Surreal Thing AW Moderator Maryn's Avatar
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    Attaboy, Bob! Nice to meet you, as well.

    Maryn, passing out scones
    Kindness. It doesn't cost a damned thing. If you're smart, you'll spread that stuff all over the place.

    Brick by Brick, a ménage à trois novel
    Taming the Wilde, spotted--and striped--in the wild
    Maryn Says
    , an irregular blog
    The Occasional Tweet

  14. #314
    Maestro of Mischief Justin_AC's Avatar
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    I started posting here days ago and already somebody PM'd me and asked me to revise their query for them, then revise it again.

    I don't blame you for taking this stance one iota.

  15. #315
    figuring it all out BlueMouse's Avatar
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    It took me two days, but I read this entire thread. I've been a member here for a long time, but I rarely post. Mostly I soak up knowledge and (very) occasionally offer my own if it's warranted and someone else hasn't gotten there first.

    I have posted work when I was young(er) and stupid and impulsive, and I will say that the feedback I got was incredibly helpful, insightful, and painful to read. But it resulted in what I think is a MUCH better finished novel and about 10K words cut. I learned about adjectives, and passive voice, and showing vs. telling. And I think I am a better writer because of it. I hope I was gracious enough to thank everyone for taking the time to crit, because I DID appreciate it even when it wasn't fun to hear.

    I'm willing to beta the occasional book if it fits my genre (urban fantasy is my usual bailiwick, but I like a lot with a slightly different spin to it) but I have found a beta reader who fits my style perfectly and is great about pointing out errors in continuity, grammar and wait-why-would-they-do-THAT? I tell her every day how much I appreciate her. And you guys can't have her.

    So I guess thank you for this thread. I will continue to read and learn and enjoy the wisdom and humor here.
    Last edited by BlueMouse; 04-18-2012 at 10:11 PM. Reason: Keep thinking of things to add!
    Well they tell you: never hit a man with a closed fist. But it is, on occasion, hilarious. - Malcolm Reynolds

  16. #316
    The Surreal Thing AW Moderator Maryn's Avatar
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    Come on, are you sure you won't share? We have chocolate, lots and lots of chocolate...

    Maryn, who once lived in Hill Country herself
    Kindness. It doesn't cost a damned thing. If you're smart, you'll spread that stuff all over the place.

    Brick by Brick, a ménage à trois novel
    Taming the Wilde, spotted--and striped--in the wild
    Maryn Says
    , an irregular blog
    The Occasional Tweet

  17. #317
    figuring it all out BlueMouse's Avatar
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    Nope. On most things I will bend over backwards to accommodate you, but on this I'm gonna be selfish.

    I will attempt to work up the courage to post more. I feel kind of intimidated in the midst of people who know so much about the craft I'm struggling to learn.
    Well they tell you: never hit a man with a closed fist. But it is, on occasion, hilarious. - Malcolm Reynolds

  18. #318
    The Surreal Thing AW Moderator Maryn's Avatar
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    Oh, it's scary all right, putting your imperfect work up there for all to see. I find it especially humbling when I consider how great it seemed before people showed me the multitude of flaws.

    But by god, I learned not to make those same mistakes again, and people were really quite factual and nice, criticizing the work, not my thighs.

    Maryn, lighthearted and heavy legged
    Kindness. It doesn't cost a damned thing. If you're smart, you'll spread that stuff all over the place.

    Brick by Brick, a ménage à trois novel
    Taming the Wilde, spotted--and striped--in the wild
    Maryn Says
    , an irregular blog
    The Occasional Tweet

  19. #319
    Banned for Trolling
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maryn View Post
    Oh, it's scary all right, putting your imperfect work up there for all to see. I find it especially humbling when I consider how great it seemed before people showed me the multitude of flaws.

    Maryn, lighthearted and heavy legged
    which reminds me...

  20. #320
    but appreciated anyway... Unimportant's Avatar
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    Bumping this up because the whole thread is well worth reading, but also to flag that I've been learning, lately, that I'm not going to be a good beta-reader for an author if I don't like the book's MC or narrative voice. The book doesn't have to be perfect by any means, but if it's just not me -- I find the character unlikeable, or it's not a voice I like reading, or whatever -- then I am simply going to have to give up after the first few chapters and say "Sorry, not for me."

    This doesn't mean it's a bad book! Just that I would be a bad beta reader for this particular book. Indeed, the last book I had to say "sorry" on after the first three or four chapters was really excellent: rollicking plot, brilliant voice, lively characters. But I utterly despised the MC. The fault lay with me, not the author.

    It's why I ask to look at sample chapters before I fully commit. Hopefully authors are okay with that

  21. #321
    The Surreal Thing AW Moderator Maryn's Avatar
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    Thanks for the bump. I'm not a person to honk her own horn, but I gnash my teeth at each day's new request for a beta read from someone with, like, three posts. It may be a fine read and the author a person I'd truly enjoy, but it rankles nevertheless, asking so much having given so little.

    Maryn, headache-y or she'd be more tactful
    Kindness. It doesn't cost a damned thing. If you're smart, you'll spread that stuff all over the place.

    Brick by Brick, a ménage à trois novel
    Taming the Wilde, spotted--and striped--in the wild
    Maryn Says
    , an irregular blog
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  22. #322
    but appreciated anyway... Unimportant's Avatar
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    Ditto, Maryn. I put my name on the beta-readers list, but after being flooded with PMs from new members -- some so new they had a zero post count -- I gave up and took my name off the list.

  23. #323
    Travel biologist, piss-poor fluffer quicklime's Avatar
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    I've beta-read exactly two books, ever.

    Maryn got a lot of shit for this thread, I hear, and that's a tragedy, because everything she said is, to some part, why I avoid beta requests like the plague. Even if you wish it was different, these are all things to be acutely aware of when you approach someone else to beta for you.
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  24. #324
    but appreciated anyway... Unimportant's Avatar
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    I've beta-read oh, gosh, I can't count how many books. The ones I can remember offhand: a romance with massive plot holes but a compelling subplot about eating disorders; a mystery by a dyslexic author who needed her prose cleaned up; a post-apoc SF novel whose science needed (and got!) a rigorous overhaul; a fantasy that sagged in the middle but made me cry at the end; a YA fantasy that really was pretty close to perfect; a co-authored alt-hist fantasy for author #1 that had some godawful saccharine plotlines thanks to author #2 (who, it turned out, didn't appreciate my comments!). Always, though, there were two ingredients: something about the book made me want to read it, and something about the author made me want to work with him/her. The 'something' seemed to be limited not just to me, as all the books went on to be published by reputatable presses.

    Maryn most certainly should not get shit for this thread. I mean, think about it. Even if I beta-read pretty much constantly, I can do maybe one book a month. Yet when I put my name on the beta list here, I got over a dozen requests in a week. That'd extrapolate to fifty a month. I have to pick one out of the fifty and say no to the other forty-nine. There's a reason I'm going to pick the one I do, and there are reasons I don't pick the forty-nine I turn down. If authors don't think about why they're in the forty-nine category and do something about it, they'll never become the one that gets picked.

    This thread is a great public service, and Maryn deserves lots of cookies and bonbons. ::strews confetti, hands out bon-bons::

    Adding: I don't hold it against AWers if they don't give me a rep point for a crit -- I've been on this board for like eight years, and I only twigged to the existence of rep points about a year ago! Slooooooooow, that's me...
    Last edited by Unimportant; 08-03-2012 at 04:39 AM.

  25. #325
    If the first chapter is horrible, then I don't see why a reader would continue. State your distaste as graciously as possible and decline the beta exchange. You're a writer! Craft an explanation as to why you will not continue the edit. Don't read and edit the entire awful novel and then bemoan the experience like it's their fault you wasted your time. Why does it take getting burned to realize that? Rants and bitterness aren't even necessary. If your time is valuable, value it.
    Last edited by CatherineHall; 08-03-2012 at 05:13 AM.
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