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View Full Version : Brutal BETA with spiked club wanted



colealpaugh
04-04-2009, 07:04 AM
I need a favor...I suppose the most straightforward thing to do is just toss the situation right out in the middle of the ring:

I recently completed my first 83k word work of commercial fiction. Kind of a dark humored 'fictionalized memoir'---it's loosely based on my career as a war correspondent. My background is twenty or so years of journalism and fiction is a new world for me. Just after I'd finished the first draft over a year ago, I sent out a lousy e-query to 100+ agents and was rejected 100+ times. After finishing a third---and what I consider final---rewrite of the MS, I got serious about a proper query and mailed out 20 with very low expectations in the last two weeks. From those 20, I got three requests for fulls and two requests for partials (none are for exclusives and all were for email attachments). All from absolute top shelf, primo agents.

Okay, so with the guidance of some terrific web sites, I seem to have the ability to write a catchy query letter. Such a talent is worth roughly ZIP if the MS is crap. Am I right, or am I right?

So I jumped back into the pool and have been charging ahead with a new WIP. Ha, I say, let them reject that old piece of trash...eh, yeah well the piece of trash that was my life and blood for nearly two years.

But before I get the fully expected five heart crushing rejections, I'm looking for a beta to give me a brutal assessment of the first three chapters totaling just 5k words.

The work contains language (eh, some is bad), mild sexual situation (eh, some feeling up in the back seat), and drug use (hey, Obama and Bush did blow so don't judge).

No spell/grammar checks, just an overall "Dude, I don't get it", or "Man, the standards for newspaper writing must really be freakin' low". This would come from a beta who is not warm and fuzzy and would know I'll love them no matter how ugly they get.

Oh, and I guess the best thing would be to pm me with an email address...or whatever the SOP is.

colealpaugh
04-06-2009, 07:35 AM
I just wanted to close this request for a beta. A couple of very cool Awers stepped up with offers and one has already gotten back to me. Not sure if it's 'normal' to have more than one beta, but since it's just the first three chapters, I suppose it was okay. Two heads v. one, I suppose.

But if anyone was questioning the value of a beta, I can just say how incredibly important it can be to the process.

I've been a journalist my entire adult life and this was the first time since college anyone has read any of my fiction and I admit to being scared to death.

Eh, so thanks to my betas and thanks to AW for providing this forum.

Danalynn
04-06-2009, 09:58 AM
Just a quick comment, but IMHO, you can never have too many beta's. ;)

We all "see" things differently when we read, and oftentimes one will catch something that another had completely overlooked, thus opening your eyes to new possibilities for improvment, and making for a stronger, tighter manuscript.


Good luck with your novel! Sounds like you're on the right track.

:D



Okay, so with the guidance of some terrific web sites, I seem to have the ability to write a catchy query letter. Such a talent is worth roughly ZIP if the MS is crap. Am I right, or am I right?

ETA: And I WISH I had your same tallent for writting a catchy querry letter. I've just started learning that whole querry/synopsis process, and it's HARD! LOL! Care to PM me the links to those terrific web sites you found that helped you with writing querries? :)

colealpaugh
04-06-2009, 10:29 AM
Good luck with your novel! Sounds like you're on the right track.
ETA: And I WISH I had your same tallent for writting a catchy querry letter. I've just started learning that whole querry/synopsis process, and it's HARD! LOL! Care to PM me the links to those terrific web sites you found that helped you with writing querries? :)

Hey, thanks Dana-Lynn, no secrets about it: Miss Snark and Nathan Bransford. And I've seen the brilliant advice on this MB, although I'd finished my current query draft before coming aboard AW.

Also: as soon as you are ready to query your current MS, write something you love more. I fully expect all the requests to be rejected. No worries. My current WIP is 10x better:)

I did pm you with other junk.

Good luck to you!