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View Full Version : Are there any down sides to beta readers?



BlueDimity
02-14-2010, 01:35 AM
So sorry if that is a rude question, but before I start a new thread asking for a beta reader, I want to know, are there any down sides to having a beta reader?

If you get published after having a beta reader, does the beta reader's name get put on the book also? Or could someone just tell me how this is all setup? Thanks.

The Otter
02-14-2010, 01:42 AM
No, a beta reader's name doesn't appear anywhere on the novel after it's published. A beta reader is simply someone who offers you critique and feedback on your book. Often, two writers will critique each other's work.

As far as I know, there really aren't any downsides. Most of my experiences with beta readers have been very helpful. Theoretically, I guess it would be possible for someone to steal your ideas, but in reality this almost never happens.

BlueDimity
02-14-2010, 01:44 AM
Thank you.

suki
02-14-2010, 01:48 AM
So sorry if that is a rude question, but before I start a new thread asking for a beta reader, I want to know, are there any down sides to having a beta reader?

If you get published after having a beta reader, does the beta reader's name get put on the book also? Or could someone just tell me how this is all setup? Thanks.

There are some sticky threads in this forum, above this thread, that will answer these questions in more detail and provide you other background information. Make sure you read them, especially the "Read Before You Post" thread and the thread on protecting your WIP.


But a beta reader is a completely voluntary peer critique - ie, usually you and another reader critique each other's work to help each other out. Or you seek a more experienced writer to critique your work, and someday you pay that favor forward by critiquing someone else's work. They are not an editor and don't get any kind of credit on your book - though sometimes it's nice to thank them in the acknowledgments if they were very helpful.

Downsides?

Well, you could get someone who doesn't really know what they are talking about and they give you bad advice - that's why it's usually good to have multiple beta readers, or ask people who whose opinions/knowledge you are already familiar with, so you have some idea they actually can give you good advice. But having several beta readers usually is equally good, so that you have a variety of advice so you can decide whose comments, and which comments, to trust, and that you agree with.

If you seek critique too early it can hurt your confidence, by being too harsh. So make sure you discuss with your beta what you are looking for and how long you have been writing and your goals, etc. Your manuscript usually should be in good shape before you seek peer critique - ie, you have already revised and proofread it and corrected spelling and grammatical issues to the best of your ability.

For me, I want hard critique - it's the only way my writing/ms will improve. But some people aren't ready for that and it's too painful/hurts their feelings.

And I have heard stories of some people having a beta reader steal their ideas. Hasn't happened to me, and I assume it is a rare thing, but I have heard from others that it happened to them.

So you need to decide what your comfort level is. If your story isn't high concept, and the execution really is where the sellable story is, then I'd worry less about idea stealing.

Read the sticky threads for more information.

~suki

veinglory
02-14-2010, 01:50 AM
Beta-reading is a gift, often given reciprocally. It is of variable help but has a down side only if you let it have a down side. You can walk away from it at any time.

BlueDimity
02-14-2010, 01:51 AM
Thanks Suki. I don't worry about my feelings (I cut them away with razors. Not really), but I do worry about my ideas being stolen.

BlueDimity
02-14-2010, 01:52 AM
and, thank you , vein.

suki
02-14-2010, 01:56 AM
Thanks Suki. I don't worry about my feelings (I cut them away with razors. Not really), but I do worry about my ideas being stolen.

Is this the book you've been working on the query for? There didn't seem to be anything so high concept in that pitch that, if it were me, I would worry someone lifting the idea and running with it. It seemed like a story with a lot of plot points common to fantasy where the execution is what would make it fresh and new. So, unless you're working on something else, it didn't sound high concept to me.

~suki

BlueDimity
02-14-2010, 01:57 AM
Yes, same story.