View Full Version : Please tell me about your Beta experiences

07-16-2010, 09:41 AM
Hello, I have been writing and working on my main MS for almost three years now, starting when I was 12.
I have been continually working on my YA Fantasy but I'm not sure if it's headed in the right direction. I wrote it in an odd setup that, well, works for me but I don't know if it would work for anyone else. It is like Charles DeLint's Little Grrl Lost, as it changes from differnt characters' POVs, though I do it more than he does.

So before trying to get a Beta reader again, I would like to know how it worked out for all of you.

I tried chapter swapping once but I hurt the other writer's feelings and then he didn't want to work with me anymore.

07-16-2010, 08:30 PM
We've had a variety of Beta experiences. We really think our fellow writers have always tried to provide honest insight on our work -- even if one Beta thought our project was horribly flawed and another thought it was publication-ready.

People is people and opinions vary. The feedback has helped us find weak spots in our work and we're grateful.

07-16-2010, 08:33 PM
Hit Enter too soon. Forget to say, the right Beta is a Godsend. We've had a couple of spectacular readers. After working with one of them, we contracted our first romance with Cobblestone Press.

Would we have gotten there, anyway? Maybe. But LB's experience as a romance writer and her advice on our manuscript absolutely helped us get there sooner.

Chris P
07-16-2010, 08:50 PM
Overall it's been about 25% helpful, as 75% of the time the beta vanishes. Of the betas I've found on AW, it's been about 50/50.

07-16-2010, 09:57 PM
My experiences have been mostly positive since I started writing toward publication about two years ago. But I'm in the camp that any feedback is good feedback, even if I don't entirely agree with it. So YMMV.

I agree with PortableHal. The betas who've worked out so far have been real godsends, and I've been careful not to chase them off. :D Sure, I had a couple stinky critiques here and there when I first started looking (probably even deserved 'em)--those betas were the ones I thanked and didn't pursue a crit "relationship" with because I didn't feel we meshed.

It'd probably be a good idea to swap a couple pages with a potential to get a feel for how they crit. If neither of you are crazy about what happens, keep looking. It took about a month to find the first person who was willing to put up with me for an entire MS (will be beginning the search for willing victims betas again, very soon). I'm sure you'll find betas who'll be a good fit, too. :)

07-17-2010, 12:11 AM
I don't do unilateral critiques, so I don't have a beta experience where we don't swap.

Most of my exchanges past first-chapter tryouts have been good. The few who quit me were like your writer with the hurt feelings. They thought pointing out departures from standard spelling, punctuation, and grammar to be personal attacks--not something they could take or leave as they saw fit. One or two quit me because I'd rather not make chapter four a prologue and split chapter seven into equal parts flashback and foreshadow--or change the forty-something protagonist with acquired talents to a teenager with full blown skills.

Those I quit were those who lectured on generalities (most often from a favored how-to-write book) rather than comment on the specifics of my manuscript.

Hypothetical instances: if I used an exclamation point, the critiquer might rant about how he hated them and how the creative writing teacher he loved forbad even one, rather than tell me how my specific exclamation was overkill. Or she might strike-through the only two words in my chapter ending -ly because Stephen King's On Writing banned adverbs to the corn field. This without any word telling me how my use of "only" and "duly" were like nails across her chalkboard.

One or two partnerships didn't pan out for some subtle lack of fit so that both of us let contact slip away.

But for the most part, my partners remain partners or friends working on something other than writing for the time being.

07-17-2010, 09:10 AM
Ah, I see. Thanks guys.

07-17-2010, 09:19 AM
My beta experiences have been incredibly positive. Some people did drop off, but the feedback I've gotten (even from the ones who only read a chapter or two) has been incredibly valuable.

07-17-2010, 03:26 PM
Beta readers, their price is above rubies. That said, some people offer to beta read without having any idea how much work goes into it.
I have eight betas who read for me. I do not to become "friends" with my betas. I don't know where they live. I don't ask about their personal lives and I don't discuss mine. We do not correspond when I don't have a project.

I don't solicit critiques but if any are offered I'm always grateful.

My betas read for typos, (No auto spell checking allowed). They read for flow, consistency (very important), entertainment value, accuracy, character believability, behaviors, etc. There's more but you get the picture. What they get from me is a name in the acknowledgment page and a signed hard copy when (if) the book comes out. "Too little payment for so great a debt."

I've had betas return my text almost unaltered while others send back a pages full of comments. Some betas drop out after a few days. Others never return the ms while still others have been with me for almost 10 years.

I currently have a request in AW for a beta but no takers so far.

07-17-2010, 04:18 PM
Beta reades are very valuable and I have only positive experience. I usually have around 10, sometimes a bit more betas.

They're pointing out mistakes what you can't see as you know your world and your entire MS inside out. They give you a real picture about your MS, regardless you live in an illusion world or not. Sometimes they love to shatter your illusion world. I love when a beta is cruel, works without emotions and really doing his / her job what for you asked.

07-18-2010, 12:06 AM
I find it interesting how one writer can hep another writer out and see his/her mistakes like typos and spelling or things like a crappy storyline.
I hope that I will find a helpful beta one day.
You guys have all been helpful. I like how you all have have lots of information about this=D

Nya RAyne
07-21-2010, 05:22 AM
Well, about a year ago I tried it for the first time--we swapped--and I never got my story back from her. Even though, I did my part. That said, I did decide to give it a chance again with my new book and got two really exceptional betas that keep in touch and actually do what they say they're going to do.

07-21-2010, 07:47 AM
I had a beta for all of two minutes. They read the first chapter and kind of poorly critted it. When they asked for more I sent it. Haven't heard another word. I've emailed but no response. I don't think betas are for me anyways but for others it can be good.