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popmuze
07-14-2005, 12:56 AM
I've only been dropping by a short while, but I've come across the term "beta reader" more than once. What does this mean?

Also, although there are a lot of threads for newbies and beginning writers, would anyone be interested in something along the lines of Pro File, where people who've been published often and are still at it can trade shop talk. Or if there already is such a thread, where do I find it.

katiemac
07-14-2005, 02:52 AM
Hi Pop.

The phrase "beta reader" is used to describe the people who read and critique an author's manuscript before it's sent to publishers. They are the "test audience," like at a movie screening. Usually they look for plot holes, character development, grammer, structure, etc.

As for "Pro File," I'm not exactly sure I know what you mean. On the Writing Novels forum, there is a thread called "Learn Writing With Uncle Jim" where James D. MacDonald, author of science fiction novels, has started a sort of presentation on writing and publishing. He's offered his experience to new writers.

There are also few other boards, like the Ask the Editor and Ask the Agent forums where Jenna Glatzer (owner of this board) has recruited some professionals to answer questions. As for any specific threads, those don't necessarily come up. The professionals who would be included in this trade shop talk are the ones who usually answer questions the newbies have.

These members are recognizable by the term "Absolute Sage" noted underneath their usernames, but there are plenty of other knowledgable board members as well.

- katiemac

popmuze
07-14-2005, 06:01 PM
I guess what I'm looking for is a Forum where James MacDonald and other sages would go to give each other advice.

As far as Beta Readers, how would you go about getting one. I have lots of friends who are published writers, but I'd hate to burden them with an entire manuscript or even 100 pages.

katiemac
07-14-2005, 10:11 PM
I guess what I'm looking for is a Forum where James MacDonald and other sages would go to give each other advice.

As far as Beta Readers, how would you go about getting one. I have lots of friends who are published writers, but I'd hate to burden them with an entire manuscript or even 100 pages.

As far as a Sage thread goes, the Cooler doesn't have one. Our Sages are well-versed enough in the business that they rarely require advice from one another. Rather, they've graciously spent their time answering everyone else's questions.

You can look for beta readers in a few places. It's great you have some published friends, but that's not necessarily a requirement for a reader unless you want it to be. Other writers, while they do make good betas, also like to impose their stye (unconsciously, of course) onto your writing when they suggest revisions and other details. A good beta reader is one that reads often (so, don't pick someone who just reads the new Potter book every three years), enjoys reading, and preferably in your genre. Friends and family can be a great help, but also be wary of those who will tell you it's great no matter what (like your mother). Make sure whoever you choose wants to help you, and knows that doesn't mean giving you compliments rather than true criticism.

I've been frequenting this board for over a year now and I've formed some good relationships with people here. I know a few who might be willing to beta for me once I reach that stage. I know from their posts here on the board and their own writing progress that they're people I can trust to give me proper feedback. Depending on how fast you would like a beta reader, this is one place you can find one. (If you want to make a new thread under Mentoring or Writing Partners, that might me one way to get the attention of someone who is willing. I was a beta for someone by answering their request before I was a moderator.)

Also, don't be afraid to ask your published friends if you think they're right for the work. Start small -- send an email, ask if they wouldn't mind giving your first three chapters a once-over. Based on any recommendations from those couple of chapters, you might find repetitive grammar mistakes, structure or plot that needs work throughout the entire manuscript. If they're willing to take on the entire project, that's great too. But you never know unless you ask!

Good luck!