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Thread: Why I Won't Beta Read Your Novel

  1. #176
    Wielder of the Witchblade Rowan's Avatar
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    My beta experiences run the gamut from fabulous to dreadful, but I won't go into detail here.

    There is light at the end of the tunnel though. I'm fortunate in that I found two fantastic beta readers who double as brainstorming partners and are also friends. (You both know who you are.)

    It still baffles me that Karen has helped so many people and received so little thanks. She beta read for me and was not only fast but very insightful. (Cheers again, Karen!)
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  2. #177
    figuring it all out Inkstrokes's Avatar
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    I've seen other sites with 'Trader Ratings', maybe this site should have a 'Beta Rating' and/or a 'Feedback Meter'.

    Now the receiver of said Beta really needs to step back from their work a look at the feedback received. Look at it through eyes not jaded by their attachments to the words, and rate based on the quality of the feedback not just because they didn't like that the beta didn't immediately fall in love with it.

    The same can be said of whether the Beta receives a thank-you for their time and effort (I mean really, how hard is that?). Thank them for their time even if you didn't agree with their views.
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  3. #178
    Let's see what's on special today.. Bufty's Avatar
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    Sounds great in theory, BUT...I don't immediately see how a reporting system like this could be guaranteed to operate in any real, fair or constructive sense to either beta readers or potential recipients unless details of the relative parties and their experience were disclosed.

    How does a total beginner (and they seem to post the majority of requests for beta readers) rate quality of feedback in a manner that is meaningful to say, a non-beginner, for example?


    I've seen other sites with 'Trader Ratings', maybe this site should have a 'Beta Rating' and/or a 'Feedback Meter'.

    Now the receiver of said Beta really needs to step back from their work a look at the feedback received. Look at it through eyes not jaded by their attachments to the words, and rate based on the quality of the feedback not just because they didn't like that the beta didn't immediately fall in love with it.


    ...
    Last edited by Bufty; 05-30-2011 at 08:53 PM.
    Everything yields to treatment.

  4. #179
    chief sitter on people fourlittlebees's Avatar
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    Some if it may be the n00b thing and a lack of knowing what to do. I can say that whether it's a crit partner or beta, EVEN SOMEONE I AM FRIENDS WITH AND TALK TO/IM WITH REGULARLY, I send a note.

    Because I know from the other end how frustrating it can be when it seems like your suggestions are being ignored, I generally address each main point. If I agree with something, I note it. If I don't agree with a suggestion, I give a short explanation as to why I feel it goes against what I'm trying. If it's something I'm not sure about, I note that I'll think about it.

    Nine times out of ten, the issues are places I've already internally flagged as potential problems.

  5. #180
    Let's see what's on special today.. Bufty's Avatar
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    Yes - it's always nice to have a brief thankyou.

    I would not be interested in entering exchanges simply to answer observation rebuttals, but by all means seek clarification of something that's not clear.

    Beyond that it seems to me that what recipients do or don't do with a beta's individual comments is up to them and not really of concern to most beta readers, unless they want their own egos stroked.

    Quote Originally Posted by fourlittlebees View Post
    Some if it may be the n00b thing and a lack of knowing what to do. I can say that whether it's a crit partner or beta, EVEN SOMEONE I AM FRIENDS WITH AND TALK TO/IM WITH REGULARLY, I send a note.

    Because I know from the other end how frustrating it can be when it seems like your suggestions are being ignored, I generally address each main point. If I agree with something, I note it. If I don't agree with a suggestion, I give a short explanation as to why I feel it goes against what I'm trying. If it's something I'm not sure about, I note that I'll think about it.

    Nine times out of ten, the issues are places I've already internally flagged as potential problems.
    Last edited by Bufty; 05-31-2011 at 01:16 PM.
    Everything yields to treatment.

  6. #181
    Every chase begins with... Chase's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fourlittlebees View Post
    If I don't agree with a suggestion, I give a short explanation as to why I feel it goes against what I'm trying.
    I'm with Bufty: Always thanks for critiquing my stuff, and unclear suggestions should be addressed.

    However, I'm more take-it-or-leave it about using suggestions, both mine or my exchange partner's. Because I don't rebut, too many rebuttals would tend to kill the partnership.

  7. #182
    Timing is everything... Barber's Avatar
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    I think this was a very good post to let people see what the general manners and expectations are when it comes to having someone beta your work.

    Yes, you should thank them and be aware of how much work goes into beta reading.

    I personally love beta reading for so many reasons and almost prefer the work not to be totally polished. That way I can learn from their writing on how to improve mine. In that sense, it's an exchange even when I don't need a beta.

    Also, we're all here because we love to read, and through beta-ing, I get to read all kinds of books I wouldn't get to otherwise. I've read quite a few here that are among my favorites.

    That way I get to take something from the giving process. And then I post my chapters in SYW and realize I haven't learned from it as much as I'd hoped... LOL

  8. #183
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chase View Post
    I'm with Bufty: Always thanks for critiquing my stuff, and unclear suggestions should be addressed.
    What Chase Said.

    And yes, telling me what you accept or don't accept can be problematic. From my own experience, I know that sometimes I need days or weeks before I can figure out if "suggestion X" works for me.

    Or sometimes, the suggestion doesn't work as stated, but it sparks a new inspiration on how to fix something. Or I hate the suggestion, but just seeing it shows me where I went wrong. Or...

    Better to say thank-you right away and let the ideas percolate.

    (Note: This is my reaction as a reader and a writer. YMMV.)

  9. #184
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    It works both ways - I've beta read and my comments were really appreciated.
    I've also had beta readers, half of whom were great and the other half never got back to me about my manuscript. Not even with a "that sucks" or "couldn't finish it". That really ticked me off - why offer then?

  10. #185
    Nerdy Budgie Literateparakeet's Avatar
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    I realize this is an old thread, and honesty I can't remember now how I stumbled on it (that was a good 5 minutes ago, you see...)

    Anyway, I thought there was some great advice here for us newbies, so I'm giving it a bump.

    Thanks Maryn.

  11. #186
    The moving hand, having writ... AW Moderator Maryn's Avatar
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    Thanks right back. Recently I'm seeing what appears to be an uptick in people seeking beta readers when they don't even have the 50 posts required for Share Your Work. Some good-hearted soul(s) may well volunteer and benefit them greatly, but it won't be me. I at least need to see a bit of the person's writing first.

    Maryn, who can tell pretty early if this could work
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  12. #187
    It's never too late to dream big Bluestone's Avatar
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    Literateparakeet, you're off on the right foot if you see the value in this advice. I know Maryn as a very considerate, wise (and funny) person and she began this thread expressing the thoughts many of us have had about the to and from beta experience. It can be the best of times, it can be the worst of times...!

    Good luck with your writing!
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  13. #188
    Fantasy Smut? Yes please! Anjasa's Avatar
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    Wow can I not believe that some people would ask a stranger to read over their novel and beta it... and not even send a thank you?

    That's terrible! Even if you think the beta reader totally didn't understand your work and their tips were all wrong you still thank them for you input and the time and effort they put into trying to help you the best way they know how! That's just basic manner!

    I thank people for holding the door open for me when they were going in ahead of me! That's an extra 2 seconds of their day that I thank them for! I'd sure expect a thankyou when trying to help someone for an hour or more.

    Sorry for typos, I'm on my tablet and realizing my nails are too long to type properly...
    Last edited by Anjasa; 01-03-2012 at 09:12 PM.



  14. #189
    Nerdy Budgie Literateparakeet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maryn View Post
    Recently I'm seeing what appears to be an uptick in people seeking beta readers when they don't even have the 50 posts required for Share Your Work.
    Yes, I've noticed the same in the short time I have been here.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bluestone View Post
    Literateparakeet, you're off on the right foot if you see the value in this advice...Good luck with your writing!
    Thanks!

    Quote Originally Posted by Anjasa View Post
    I thank people for holding the door open for me when they were going in ahead of me! That's an extra 2 seconds of their day that I thank them for! I'd sure expect a thankyou when trying to help someone for an hour or more.
    Now that you mention it...I think holding a door open deserves a thank you, and spending a couple hours being a beta reader deserves a Starbucks card (or should a say a giftcard to a bookstore?)

  15. #190
    Smart donkey. Please don't call me- Chekurtab's Avatar
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    It's good the thread had been brought up - there is some valuable info. Maryn makes very good points. I will be looking for betas when I'm done polishing my MS. It's an interesting symbiosis, but I'm a bit apprehensive. How do you know if the person is right for your work?

  16. #191
    Dancing on the edge Brindle Chase's Avatar
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    Well said Maryn!!! I've been so blessed by the help I have received here at AW, including the beta readers. My philosophy has been the pay it forward. I've beta read a dozen books since joining here and chipped in when I can in the query hell... that has earned me willing aid when I need it for one of my own books. Give more than you take!

  17. #192
    practical experience, FTW Raula's Avatar
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    I'm guilty of some of the criticisms you mention here, Maryn. I've had the benefit of three wonderful Beta readers through AW without contributing to the forum community. I used to Beta read but then found it too time-consuming whilst pursuing my own works, so I understand the level of dedication it takes, especially since it's on account of my beta readers that I was able to iron out style and grammar errors. I'd like to think I've always given more than just 'yea thanks' answers to their feedback; often I like to discuss things in more detail anyway and have always felt indebted to them.

    AW is a big forum - I'm trying to become more active without getting lost in a sea of names. I do a lot of browsing and reading of threads. Thanks for the tip about the 'Submit Your Work' forum - I will go ahead and do that as a step in the right direction.

  18. #193
    The moving hand, having writ... AW Moderator Maryn's Avatar
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    That's the spirit!

    I also like the idea of taking what you need and making sure you give a bit more, even if it's not to the same recipients.

    How do you know if a potential beta is right for your work? Well, there are lots of things which might help.
    • Find their reply posts in Share Your Work and see what you think of their critique skills.
    • Find their work posted for critique at SYW and see how well they write.
    • Find their other AW posts and see if you like them well enough, share opinions on some things, have a similar sense of humor, and simply 'click.' There are people here I admire greatly but don't click with, and I bet they'd be poor choices as my beta reader, and vice versa.
    • Take a test drive of one another. Ask that they beta read your first two chapters and get back to you with feedback by a specific date. This will let them know if they like your work well enough to read a bunch more, and lets you know if they offer decent feedback in a timely fashion.

    Any other suggestions for knowing who's going to be a good beta?

    Maryn, who hasn't beta read anything long in a while
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  19. #194
    Dancing on the edge Brindle Chase's Avatar
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    Another thought came to mind. I sure hope those who have beta read for me are not mistaken for "takers". I conduct business with my beta readers in private, not in the open, so it would not be seen by members here that they have given to the forum... I wonder now about my own presence. My conscious is clear, but others might not always see my own contributions. I dunno... I guess I'm saying, don't be hasty to judge. I always ask my beta readers if they have beta read before. When I beta read for others, I mention some of the books I have contributed too. It helps define your experience as well as your contributions to other members here. But I don't grandstand it publically... hey look at me, I scored another contribution point!!! Hehehe. Anywho... on a personal note, Maryn has beta read for me in the past and gives excellent feedback. For what it's worth!

  20. #195
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    long resurrected thread evokes long reply (film at 11)

    Reading this thread put me in mind of my own pet peeves about those who don't seem to have even the simplest understanding of manuscript critique etiquette. The funny thing is, pretty much all of them showed up in a single writer.

    The writer I'm thinking about, we were both part of the same class/critique circle. The group met twice monthly, usually to critique a member's manuscript.

    Here are the things that convinced me to just not attend the meeting when his manuscript was up:

    Me: "[some specific critique or other]"
    Him: "Oh, I've already fixed that."

    Which is to say: He would perform a manuscript revision after sending the manuscript out for critique. Please don't do that. It is immensely frustrating to find out that I've wasted my time closely critiquing an outdated version.

    Me: "That doesn't seem like an internally consistent thing for this character to do."
    Him: "Oh, but you don't know the person I've based that character on!"

    Which is to say: He would argue with critiques based on special knowledge he had that his readers couldn't possibly have. Don't do that. Your work has to stand on its own. It doesn't come with a teeny tiny version of you to stand on readers' shoulders and tour guide them through the story.

    Which is also to say: He would argue with critiques, full stop. Don't do that, ever. You're not here to defend your thesis; you're here to accept feedback. Emphasis on accept. You don't have to accept that the critique is right; you have to accept that the critique represents a reader's current reaction to the current version of your manuscript. You can't argue a reader out of their opinion. Either change the story based on that feedback or don't, but you can't argue me out of my reaction to the words on the page. It is not pleasant for me when you try.

    Me: "This female character strikes me as a bit two-dimensional for [specific reason]."
    Him: "You know, you say something like this every time. OK, I know you have a problem with my female characters. I get it. You can stop saying it now."

    Which is to say: He had no intention of doing anything about this recurring problem. And that's absolutely his right. His stories -- his decision. I get that. But if I keep critiquing his stories, I'm going to keep pointing out what I think are serious problems. Telling me he doesn't want to hear it anymore is a clear signal that this will be a waste of time for both of us.

    Which is also to say: In his stories, female characters weren't people; they were the vector by which he rewarded his male protagonists or affirmed the rightness of the male protagonists' viewpoints/feelings/reactions. This was consistent from story to story, as was his dismissal of my pointing out that it was a problem. Being a woman myself, I began to wonder to what extent he maybe didn't see me as a person. *shudder*

    It's the last point that killed the critique relationship for me.
    Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little (Niki)

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  21. #196
    Cuddly sweet teddy bear! Dani's Avatar
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    I found a lovely beta here at AW. She's pretty dang amazing. I didn't even bother looking for a beta until I'd self-edited (somewhere around 15 times at least) and had a professional edit done (twice! once he edited, sent it back, I edited it and returned it to him).

    I do have another beta reader that looks over the story before it's gone through tons of edits, but I still wouldn't send it to her without self-editing at least twice, preferably three times.

    Different betas require different things =0), but I wholeheartedly agree that you should like the person you're beta'ing for and you should at least like the genre.

    And... wow this thread is old.


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  22. #197
    It's never too late to dream big Bluestone's Avatar
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    Nicole, your post should be very helpful, as an explicit illustration, to anyone who is contemplating either being a beta or looking for one. It must have been excruiating to actually experience though! What a clueless guy. His loss.
    Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage ~ anais nin
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  23. #198
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    I just can't fathom how someone wouldn't profusely thank a beta reader. Dont they understand the time and commitment involved?


    (yes, i will be seeking one, in a month or so, )


    But seriously a thank you is the bare minimum

    (an offer of accommodation, alcohol and guide touring duties if they visit the Emerald Isle being the second...)

  24. #199
    Live a little. Write a lot. Karen Junker's Avatar
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    I just realized something. What really bothers me is not knowing what happens with a story.

    It's not that most writers don't thank me. It's that I never hear from them again and I don't get to know the evolution of their work--I don't get to know where it ends up being published. I want to know the happy ending, even if my crits were only somewhere along the line and other critters ended up being more helpful.

    I'd love to know, if someone simply drops off the face of the earth, *why*. What about my crits are bad or not helpful? What about other critters makes them more helpful?
    Karen Junker
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  25. #200
    "Assume Good Intentions" SuperModerator Williebee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brindle Chase View Post
    Give more than you take!
    That sums it up, for me. It applies to crits, betas, SYW in general and writing as a whole.

    It's not a 50-50 deal. It's 60-40, 40-60, 90-5 and a nap. But, if giving more than taking is the goal, it will work out.

    Thanks!

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