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JDM1950
03-14-2012, 06:25 PM
Hi.
I have completed my first manuscript that I can best describe as an Adventure/Fantasy/Romance.
I have heard the term "beta" readers here on the AW forums.
I have a few questions:

1. What/who are beta readers anyway? Experienced editors, amateurs?
2. How does one connect with any for a critique?
3. Are there dangers of revealing your partial or complete story to a stranger who could then publish it themselves (most of us don't have a formal copyright on our works.)
4. How reliable are beta's comments/suggestions? I don't want to get "make your hero gay" or "more gory killing scenes" for instance and therefore possibly screw my chances for marketability.

I'd appreciate comments.

writermom
03-14-2012, 06:51 PM
Adventure/Fantasy/Romance.

That's not a category. :P


What/who are beta readers anyway? Experienced editors, amateurs?

Someone who reads your work and helps to point out issues. Can be large structural issues, can be on a micro-scale... Up to you and your beta.

If you ask someone for help, the logical request should go to someone who knows more than you. Right? Because you wouldn't ask a 5-yr-old how to change an engine in a car. So...


Experienced editors, amateurs

The real answer is: someone whose work you admire. Someone you trust. Someone who you can work with.


How does one connect with any for a critique?

You make friends. ;)


Are there dangers of revealing your partial or complete story to a stranger who could then publish it themselves (most of us don't have a formal copyright on our works.)

This is not meant to be offensive: You just finished your first MS. Your work is NOT publishable. You simply do not know enough.


How reliable are beta's comments/suggestions?

As reliable as the work you put into figuring out if the suggestions are from someone who knows what they're doing. If you've randomly handed out your manuscript, I'd say very unreliable. If you chosen someone who you really think can write, then reliable.


I don't want to get "make your hero gay" or "more gory killing scenes" for instance and therefore possibly screw my chances for marketability.

Who's dumber... someone who says that, or someone who follows the advice without thinking for themselves? As with anything, use your brain. If the suggestions don't work for you, don't use them.

BarbaraSheridan
03-14-2012, 06:54 PM
Well, Writermom types quicker than I do. But you see two of us said basically the same thing which illustrates point # 4. :)

1. What/who are beta readers anyway? Experienced editors, amateurs?

A beta is someone who gives your completed (and edited to the best of your ability) book a read from start to finish in the time frame you request. They can be either of the above, and ideally would be someone well versed in your particular genre who can tell you if a plot or character type etc. has been done to death or fits what readers of that genre expect.

2. How does one connect with any for a critique?

By making friends in the writing community on boards like these or critique groups.

3. Are there dangers of revealing your partial or complete story to a stranger who could then publish it themselves (most of us don't have a formal copyright on our works.)

You don't have to copyright your work prior to publication. A large traditional publisher will do the paperwork and pay the fees for you while an e-publisher will tend to say they "can't" file on your behalf.

Worry about someone appropriating your work is the reason I suggest making friends among writers. Friends whether in person on online tend to develop a level of trust. I wouldn't hesitate to show any of my work to my online crit partners.

4. How reliable are beta's comments/suggestions? I don't want to get "make your hero gay" or "more gory killing scenes" for instance and therefore possibly screw my chances for marketability.

A beta should tell you what elements in your book work or don't work for them and why. You aren't obligated to make any sweeping changes that go against your vision of the work.

But if you get three beta reads and two of those folks say. Jack and Jill secretly being ghosts and not live characters makes no sense then you should probably give your set up and plot another look.

writermom
03-14-2012, 07:12 PM
Well, Writermom types quicker than I do. But you see two of us said basically the same thing which illustrates point # 4.

You were more eloquent.

JDM1950
03-14-2012, 07:22 PM
Ok, what is the protocol? I ask for someone on this forum to beta read? Do I give the whole MS or partial?

writermom
03-14-2012, 07:34 PM
I would suggest that you post something in the SYW section (you need 50 posts first). You might find someone who likes your style. It also might be a good idea to participate in the sub-forums of your genre to see if you click with anyone.

Or you can post a thread here. Include the description of your book and what you're looking for from a beta. See if you get any hits. :)

ETA: How much of the MS you give someone is up to you and the beta. I never ask for more than a chapter to start with when I offer to beta. I see if we click first.

quicklime
03-14-2012, 08:31 PM
Ok, what is the protocol? I ask for someone on this forum to beta read? Do I give the whole MS or partial?


check out maryn's "why I won't beta" thread also

thothguard51
03-14-2012, 09:01 PM
Not to be mean or sound old and grumpy, (which I am at times), but if this is your very first manuscript, I am not sure you are ready for a beta from strangers. Why?

If you don't understand what a beta is, will you understand what the beta is telling you in their own way? Will you understand some of the terms they use? Doubtful...

My suggestion is to read some how to books and when you get to 50 post put up one or two chapter samples in SYW. This will give you an idea of what stage you are at in your writing journey, as well as the reviewers. Once the critters understand where you are in your writing journey, some may even offer to beta swap with you...

As to copyright, you are copyrighted as soon as you create you work and save it on any fixed medium, computer, disk, cd, tape, etc.

As to will someone who is beta reading for you, going to steal your work, it can happen but it is very doubtful, especially at the stage you are in if this is a first attempt. Why steal something you are going to have to work at to clean up and fix? This is also why I always suggest knowing who your beta is.

Good luck...

Elijah Sydney
03-16-2012, 05:41 AM
1. What/who are beta readers anyway? Experienced editors, amateurs?
Beta readers are a secret society of readers, writers and editors set up during the height of the cold war in the 1960s. They determine what and who can be published and what material those books may contain. They are selected directly by a special committee within the Illuminati. Beyond that, unfortunately, there is little else I can tell you and live.

No, seriously, beta readers are anyone willing to offer their own free time to look over someone elseís writing. You donít need any qualification to be a beta, except that you read lots of books, which, coincidently, is the only qualification needed to be a writer.

So, you, my friend, could be a beta reader yourself. In fact, itís a great place to start before having your own book beta-read. The only thing you need to do is be honest Ė say what you think works or doesnít, look out for any discrepancies or contradictions, that sort of thing. Basically, just look for anything you see as a potential problem with the book, so the author has a chance to fix it before seeking representation from an agent.

Though, if you do decide to take the step to become a beta, one word of warning: Make sure you agree to look over just one chapter before committing to an entire book. Not all writing is equal, and the last thing you want to do is to waste your valuable time sorting out a mess that is nowhere near ready for publishing.

Good luck, and may you have a prosperous and joyous beta experience.

Ketzel
03-16-2012, 06:20 AM
Pretty much all of these questions are answered in the stickies at the top of the forum.

Maryn
03-16-2012, 07:52 PM
Hurray for Ketzel!

Yes. The stickies contain a wealth of information. It's easy to skip them completely, but when you want to find out something which has probably come up before and will again, the stickies are a tremendous resource.

So is the site-wide google search box on the lower left of the very bottom of the page, which you may never have scrolled down far enough to see.

Maryn, wondering why the coffee is gone when her brain is still fogged

KatieJ
03-16-2012, 08:15 PM
So is the site-wide google search box on the lower left of the very bottom of the page, which you may never have scrolled down far enough to see.


OMG! I haunt this place (to the detriment of my daily word count) and I never saw that! Thank you, Maryn, have another cup of coffee on me. :D

Netz
03-16-2012, 08:50 PM
Or there's the 'Search' option in the box towards the top of the screen (where it has your User CP, FAQ, etc. I think you have to be logged in at the time though to see all the options available).

JDM1950
03-19-2012, 05:26 PM
Thanks to all for the advice. I'm new to all this and would like to get my book (and future books!) published. It is so daunting. 16 rejections so far by agents. (of which 9 no responses after 3 months...)

Unimportant
03-20-2012, 02:37 AM
I'd suggest getting your query critiqued in SYW (when you've got 50 posts), as that's the bit that (presumably) is getting rejected by agents.

Beta readers are volunteers of varying backgrounds and skill levels who offer to read a novel and comment on it. Sometimes two authors beta read for each other. Sometimes a person beta reads out of the goodness of their heart. It's usually a good idea for the two to know each other a bit first -- for the beta to know that she likes the author's writing style and type of stories, and for the author to know that the beta will provide the type of feedback the author needs.