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AM_Ramos
04-26-2012, 05:26 AM
Just curious, how long does it take you to beta-read a full manuscript? Do the authors you're beta-reading for give you a time limit?

Maryn
04-26-2012, 06:17 AM
Nobody's ever given me a time limit without my consent. I did a two-day turn-around for a guy who had agent interest and wanted to send in the best full he could. (He sold it. Good book, too.)

But most of the time people expect you to take a week or two. And from what I hear, an author who doesn't hear back after two or three weeks might never hear back. The beta reader either got busy or simply couldn't get into the book, and doesn't want to tell the author that.

Maryn, amazed at how quickly some people beta

Crayonz
04-26-2012, 06:52 AM
What Maryn said. Sometimes it'll take longer if the novel is being sent to the beta in chunks, but otherwise it usually takes a few weeks.

That being said, I am a notoriously slow beta reader. ^^;

AM_Ramos
04-26-2012, 07:42 AM
Okay, thanks! Good to know!

I am also a notoriously slow beta reader, because I like to be thorough. I just took on projects for three different authors four days ago, and I thought I was making good progress, until I got an email from one of them, telling me to "please hurry up if possible." I thought it was kind of awkward.

And wow, I've never heard of a beta reader who just stopped contacting the author altogether. Sound a bit harsh. One would think they'd at least be courteous.



Nobody's ever given me a time limit without my consent. I did a two-day turn-around for a guy who had agent interest and wanted to send in the best full he could. (He sold it. Good book, too.)

But most of the time people expect you to take a week or two. And from what I hear, an author who doesn't hear back after two or three weeks might never hear back. The beta reader either got busy or simply couldn't get into the book, and doesn't want to tell the author that.

Maryn, amazed at how quickly some people beta

Unimportant
04-26-2012, 08:52 AM
Taking the questions backwards:

Do the authors you're beta-reading for give you a time limit?
Usually, yes. Sometimes they'll say "Oh, whenever" but usually they want feedback for a specific reason (a market submission deadline or whatever). They always note that "can't do it by then" is a perfectly acceptable reason for declining. The last beta I did was a 10K story that the author wanted feedback on within the week. It suited my schedule so I said yes.


Just curious, how long does it take you to beta-read a full manuscript?
That really depends on the author and manuscript and what kind of feedback they want.

The 10K one I did last week took me a few hours. I put in a handful of minor "might re-word this" suggestions and wrote a few paragraphs about the overall structure, flow, and quality of the piece. It was an excellent story, so my biggest problem was getting sucked into the story and forgetting I was supposed to be reading with critique in mind!

The more problems the piece has, the longer it takes to crit. A really clean, problem-free 100K novel would probably take me 10 hours. One that is chock full of textual errors (spelling, punctuation, etc) where I'm supposed to be proofreading and correcting every single error would probably take 100 hours or more. One that has a lot of structural, characterisation, and plot issues would probably take 50 - 100 hours.

WackAMole
04-26-2012, 12:27 PM
I just took on projects for three different authors four days ago, and I thought I was making good progress, until I got an email from one of them, telling me to "please hurry up if possible." I thought it was kind of awkward.

If someone I was beta reading for asked me to 'hurry-up' without providing a very detailed and reasonable explanation it would probably make me mad enough to stop beta reading for them. To have someone beta read is a privilege and unless the writer has some offer on the table screaming for an immediate response, I think it is terribly rude to ever ask someone who is already doing you a favor to 'hurry up'.

Just my two cents :)

shadowwalker
04-26-2012, 04:53 PM
Depends - if they send me a story they've gone over with a fine tooth comb, then only as long as it takes to read it and make a few quick comments. If they send me something they just finished and haven't even proof-read - about as long as it takes to return it. Anything in between takes a few hours to a few days.

Chasing the Horizon
04-26-2012, 11:05 PM
It takes me a week or two, but that's because beta-reading is several steps down my list of priorities (after getting my own writing and editing done) so some days I run out of time to work on it.

Last time the person I was beta-ing for poked me after about 10 days. Which was a good thing, because I'd forgotten her MS under a pile of edits for my own MS. :o I don't think there's anything wrong with asking for a status update after a week or two, as long as you're polite about it. Beta readers can get distracted too.

I only beta-read manuscripts that don't need line edited, so it doesn't take me as many hours of actual work to get through them. Maybe about 12 hours to do a full critique on a 100,000 word book. That's reading time + thinking/writing time for 1,000-2,000 words of comments on structure and writing.

If only I could edit my own MS so quickly, lol. But doing the work is so much more time consuming than pointing out what needs done!

Jess Haines
04-26-2012, 11:47 PM
I won't take on beta projects with a time limit. Too much wonky stuff going on in my life right now for that. Though if certain betas who have been with me for a while asked, I would do it for them based on the help I've received in the past.

As far as how long it takes me to get through a full ms, it depends on the shape it is in and the length of the ms. Generally I do 1-3 chapters per day. Sometimes more on the weekend.

Bulletproof
04-27-2012, 12:15 AM
Don't beta much anymore, but two days to two weeks, depending.

I only do line edits up until it's clear that the project isn't structurally sound. Why fix the paint on a crumbling wall?

So the stronger the work, the longer the wait. A polished, perfect book still takes time...gotta comment on all the good stuff :Sun:

Literateparakeet
04-27-2012, 12:39 AM
Just curious, how long does it take you to beta-read a full manuscript? Do the authors you're beta-reading for give you a time limit?

It takes me a week or two, usually. I like to send the author updates though as in, "Read the first three chapters...loving it so far." (only if that is the truth ;))

I would not beta for someone that gave me a time limit.



If someone I was beta reading for asked me to 'hurry-up' without providing a very detailed and reasonable explanation it would probably make me mad enough to stop beta reading for them.

Same here!

It would be acceptable, as someone else mentioned for the author to give a polite query if they haven't heard from the beta, but "hurry up" is unacceptable, at least for me.

Elijah Sydney
04-27-2012, 08:32 AM
I only beta-read manuscripts that don't need line edited, so it doesn't take me as many hours of actual work to get through them.^This.

Call me old fashioned, but I always think of beta reading as reading, not editing. If a manuscript still needs line edits, then it's not ready for a beta, as far as I'm concerned.

I usually give an estimate of about a week, depending on length. That gives me time to find a few evenings for the actual read and then some to write up a report. If the writing is of a reasonable standard, it doesn't usually take me any longer to read than a book of comparable size – maybe a tad more, as most times I write myself a few notes as I go. The report can take anything up to a few hours to write, though, and often over a couple of evenings, as I like to have time to mull over my initial thoughts.

DeleyanLee
04-27-2012, 05:01 PM
Depends on who I'm reading for.

If I'm reading for one of the gals in my little circle, we generally give each other a month to do the commentary--but that's usually because we all like to let the book sit for about a month before we do anything more with it. We know this, so we aim to give the commentary back in the last few days of the month. But to do the actual read, it usually takes however long it takes us to read a book and then an evening to type up the comments.

When reading for my pub'd friends, they have different requirements. I've done a full turnaround on a completed book in 24 hours because of their deadline requirements. Generally, I get a week before they need the comments back.

And if RL is too insane, I don't do the fast turnarounds, needless to say.

However, none of us do line editing in commentary. We all consider that the author's job, not the beta's.

Adobedragon
04-27-2012, 07:32 PM
I don't think I've ever finished a full length manuscript--70 to 100K--in less than a couple of weeks. Between my job and my own writing, I just don't have the time to sit down and read anything that fast.

Plus, in the past, I made the mistake of taking on manuscripts that, uh (searches for diplomatic phrasing) needed loads of work and were hard to read. I don't do that anymore; I'm much pickier about what I chose to read. But I'm very upfront with my slow (possible a month or more) turnaround time.

Mutive
04-28-2012, 12:39 AM
Depends. I've had three pages take me several hours. For realz. Those three pages had a lot of problems, and I probably typed up double the length of the pages in notes/suggestions/ideas/whatever. I couldn't see doing that for an entire manuscript (although the author asked me to), but if you extrapolate 3 hours for 3 pages to 300 pages...yeah. You get the idea as to how long it could take.

Normally I'd say it's less time. I catch line edits, offer plot suggestions, world building, etc. So it maybe takes, say 20 hours? (Which I'll spread over weeks, in general. Generally more like a month. Sorry, I have my own projects + a full time job. I'm not a fast turn around beta.)

veschke
04-29-2012, 02:07 PM
I've never done one with a time limit. Anywhere from a couple of weeks to a few months, depending on how much else I have going on and how quickly the author sends me stuff. I try to keep to a steady pace and keep the author up to date on where I am with it. I generally do a pretty detailed read.