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Viridian
11-09-2013, 11:45 PM
Let's say someone posts a thread on this forum asking for a beta, explaining what their story is about and what they want. What makes you decide to message that writer -- or alternatively, not message them? (Assuming the story is question is in a genre you like and all that good stuff.)

Does the story have to be a certain level of "good"? Or is it the opposite -- do they have to have flaws you know how to fix? Do they have to be someone you already know?

Just wondering! :)

thebird
11-09-2013, 11:54 PM
For me, they would have to: be active members; write a genre I not only like, but feel well-versed in so I could provide good feedback; have a concise, well-written summary of the book (if they can't put together a two-paragraph post on a message board, I probably won't be able to slog through 400 manuscript pages of their work); appear to be open to suggestions and constructive criticisms.

That said, I haven't beta'd for anyone on this board, but those would be my requirements if I was going to beta for a stranger. :O)

Viridian
11-09-2013, 11:59 PM
have a concise, well-written summary of the book (if they can't put together a two-paragraph post on a message board, I probably won't be able to slog through 400 manuscript pages of their work)

This has been my problem so far. I'm not actively looking for anyone to beta, but I like to keep an eye on the requests. What ends up turning me off 90% of the time is either the lack of a summary, or a summary that's badly written or completely unhelpful.

Maryn
11-10-2013, 12:03 AM
For me, it has to be someone I've seen around for a while who's been neutral or good to have here; the book's genre has to be something I pleasure read; the logline or basic summary needs to sound interesting and be well-written; there needs to be a suggestion or flat-out statement that the author believes the manuscript is polished and ready to submit (anybody who says they need grammar help, I skip); the post should offer a first chapter or first 50 pp. to see if we mesh; the author says s/he will swap beta reads or promises to do a beta for someone else for each one s/he receives.

Maryn, pretty persnickety

buz
11-10-2013, 12:09 AM
Let's say someone posts a thread on this forum asking for a beta, explaining what their story is about and what they want. What makes you decide to message that writer -- or alternatively, not message them? (Assuming the story is question is in a genre you like and all that good stuff.)

Does the story have to be a certain level of "good"? Or is it the opposite -- do they have to have flaws you know how to fix? Do they have to be someone you already know?

Just wondering! :)

Wellll...

What makes me decide to beta is a combination of things that have nothing to do with the request and things that *do* have to do with the request.

First consideration is whether someone I know and respect is asking me. Closely behind is whether I have time to do it or not.

If the first is true, I will say yes, unless I really really don't have the time.

As far as looking for things to read in this part of the forum, though...well, I don't even look unless I have the time and inclination, generally, so we can discard that, although it's probably the single biggest factor...

Considerations after that:

1) How much I know of the poster and their writing from the site (not necessarily SYW excerpts or whatever; posts count) and how I feel about all that. I'm far less likely to read for an unknown entity than someone I'm at least a little familiar with.

2) The genre and market. I feel awkward and kinda scared about offering to beta MG or children's or something I'm equally unfamiliar with--even if the story sounds interesting, I'll often balk at offering, because I really haven't read anything for that age level since I was that age (with a few exceptions). Likewise, I'm not going to offer on something like erotica or other genres I don't read because I'd be useless.

3) The summary of the book, or link to excerpt on SYW, or some other thing that gives me a decent idea of what the book is like and a brief idea of writing style. I prefer to see a summary or query or something, so I can see if it appeals to me for whatever reason.

As far as whether the book is "good" or not...I really don't know that I could tell without reading the manuscript ;) But I like to see that the author has tried to learn to self-edit to some degree, and I like it if I know that they've received (and given) critique before, so forum participation really helps. ;)

That's all just me though.

shadowwalker
11-10-2013, 01:59 AM
My immediate turn-off is if the author is "passionate" about their writing/story. I've found those to be the most difficult to work with. Otherwise, besides the whole genre thing, I'll work with someone I know has some grasp of the basics, or a stranger if the plot intrigues me - but I always want just the first chapter before making any decision. If the 'relationship' works out for that, it stands a good chance of going the distance.

slhuang
11-10-2013, 02:45 AM
How well I know the poster is the number one criterion. I want to feel like our interaction clicks, like I won't have to tiptoe and offer qualifiers for all of my crits. And I won't know that unless I've interacted with someone.

Genre matters too -- I'll still offer to beta a genre I don't normally read (with disclaimers), but I usually won't offer to beta in a genre or category I mostly dislike. The better I know the poster, the less important the genre is.

I'll usually also look for SYW excerpts to make sure I enjoy the writing style before offering. Again, the better I know the poster, the less important seeing their work is.

I don't think I've ever offered to beta for a person I haven't interacted with previously. *thinks* Nope.

Eta: I just realized I listed the same three things Buz did. Heh.

quicklime
11-10-2013, 02:57 AM
honestly my biggest pique is getting a sense they want to learn.

Whish isn't as easy as "I want to learn teh rulez," its usually seeing then get their ass knocked into the dirt, and then seeing how well they pick themselves up. Because everybody thinks they want to learn, but that's sort off where the rubber meets the road.

I am fairly flexible with genre, but i don't like the idea of wasting my time on someone who's gonna dismiss anything they don't want to hear.

Maryn
11-10-2013, 03:27 AM
BTW, kudos to us all for "pique." I've had it up to here with inspiring writters who want to peak my intrest.

Maryn, intolerant

slhuang
11-10-2013, 03:35 AM
BTW, kudos to us all for "pique." I've had it up to here with inspiring writters who want to peak my intrest.

Maryn, intolerant

Ya, me too. Although I found out just a few months ago that you "leach" things away and bury the "lede," which was very humbling, so I guess I can't be too much on my high horse about it . . .

~slhuang, also intolerant, and now derailing :D

Viridian
11-10-2013, 03:43 AM
BTW, kudos to us all for "pique." I've had it up to here with inspiring writters who want to peak my intrest.

Hahahaha, yep. Though I'm not ashamed to admit it's one of those words I still look up just in case. I think I've seen it spelled wrong more than I've seen it spelled right and it's affecting my brain.

Karen Junker
11-10-2013, 03:51 AM
Well, as you may know if you have read the "Why I Won't Beta..." thread--I have been much less picky in the past and I've read dozens of whole manuscripts and nearly 100 first chapters for people who did nothing more than post a request (or PM me privately to ask for my help).

*NOW* I try to stick to stories in a genre I read a lot or enjoy reading. I do tend to check and see if the person has posted around here a few times ( I read some of their posts to see if I notice any red flags). I like to see an offer to exchange work (though I don't take many people up on that).

I don't really go by the blurb, because good writers can't always write good blurbs (as anyone who has been to QLH may know).

As a result of becoming more picky, I have found some very good crit partners recently and have read at least one mss that I think has some very exciting potential. There's a tingling at the base of my ribs I get when I first read a mss that is good enough to sell. I love to get that feeling when I read AWer's work. Sometimes I get it when I read a beta request.

quicklime
11-11-2013, 03:09 AM
Ya, me too. Although I found out just a few months ago that you "leach" things away and bury the "lede," which was very humbling, so I guess I can't be too much on my high horse about it . . .

~slhuang, also intolerant, and now derailing :D



*writes off Lisa's many, many critical comments after realizing she's either part Wisconsinite or reading from an ESL perspective

quicklime
11-11-2013, 03:17 AM
Well, as you may know if you have read the "Why I Won't Beta..." thread--I have been much less picky in the past and I've read dozens of whole manuscripts and nearly 100 first chapters for people who did nothing more than post a request (or PM me privately to ask for my help).

*NOW* I try to stick to stories in a genre I read a lot or enjoy reading. I do tend to check and see if the person has posted around here a few times ( I read some of their posts to see if I notice any red flags). I like to see an offer to exchange work (though I don't take many people up on that).

I don't really go by the blurb, because good writers can't always write good blurbs (as anyone who has been to QLH may know).

As a result of becoming more picky, I have found some very good crit partners recently and have read at least one mss that I think has some very exciting potential. There's a tingling at the base of my ribs I get when I first read a mss that is good enough to sell. I love to get that feeling when I read AWer's work. Sometimes I get it when I read a beta request.


I just wanted to quote this because for all the flack maryn got for her "why I won't" thread, most of us use a handful of tells or criteria to decide what we will or won't read. Personally I have not had a bad beta experience. OK, I believe I may have BEEN one, but I have never gotten a piece of work where the work was a disappointment, or the beta was. But I believe that's mostly because I've been picky--I have heard some absolutely awful horror stories, and dodged a few of them BECAUSE I got a bad vibe.

For the OP, everyone is different, but to add my personal tally to the mix: I have offered to beta for one or two people off the beta forum, and it was because I knew them from QLH, and saw a post in the beta forum after that. A few other folks asked me, and I knew of them and felt ok accepting their request and reading for them. A fair number of others sent requests I turned down or sort of dragged out and let die because I HAD serious concerns. So if you're asking what people look for, again, I look for a sense the requester wants to learn. And that they're willing to get knocked around, and bleed a bit, to do it. Doesn't matter what part of the forum, but I don't do unknowns because I've heard so much awful shit, and I realize that doesn't represent every newbie, but I like to have some clue of what I am getting into instead of jumping blind.

slhuang
11-11-2013, 03:41 AM
*writes off Lisa's many, many critical comments after realizing she's either part Wisconsinite or reading from an ESL perspective

Hey, I'm Ayshun. We all know Ayshuns speaka no Engrish. :D


Personally I have not had a bad beta experience. ...

Yeah, me neither -- and I've finished every crit I've started -- and I think it's definitely because I'm picky about whom I'll beta for. And I feel neither the desire nor the responsibility to invite bad experiences by widening that pool of people. I like doing it, but I like doing it for people who'll appreciate it.


Personally I have not had a bad beta experience.
OK, I believe I may have BEEN oneOh wait . . . right . . . there was that one guy. So precious. Didn't want to hear a single comment on any of his writing that wasn't, "this is the BESTEST and most SPECIALIST thing I have EVER read." Some fucker from Wisconsin. Totally fucking illiterate. Now I avoid him on the forums and when he comes at me moaning for more crits I tell him to eat his dick. :D

Little Anonymous Me
11-11-2013, 03:43 AM
I've only beta'd once on AW, and I had to bow out partway through because of Life Events that didn't leave me with the time the MS deserved (which I still feel awful about). :e2bummed:


LAM's List:

1. Knowing and liking you. I will read outside of my genre if I've seen you around and I have a warm fuzzy for you. Note: warm fuzzies should not be confused with lukewarm squiggles or cold pinpricks. Having a lot of rep points from me is a good hint of my willingness. :tongue

2. Playing nice in SYW. I don't always comment, but I'm reading in QLH and the Fantasy sub-forum almost every single day. Someone who handles criticism well is on my short list. (One small hissy fit immediately followed by apologies will not land you in my black books. We're all human. Lord knows I've kicked and screamed a bit.)

3. I want to see your plot. This doesn't mean a query. If I can see you've got a good plot just from talking to you or from the threads you've started, that's enough for me. But I need to know beforehand you aren't a walking TV Tropes ad.

Viridian
11-11-2013, 03:58 AM
So if you're asking what people look for, again, I look for a sense the requester wants to learn. And that they're willing to get knocked around, and bleed a bit, to do it. Doesn't matter what part of the forum, but I don't do unknowns because I've heard so much awful shit, and I realize that doesn't represent every newbie, but I like to have some clue of what I am getting into instead of jumping blind.

This makes me wonder why someone would ask for a beta in the first place if they're not willing to be criticized. Then again, I have seen quite a few people (not on AbsoluteWrite, haven't been here long enough) who ask for help and then get offended. Though maybe I shouldn't be talking; I don't think I've ever angrily replied to someone giving me critique, but I have been known to sulk quietly.

Speaking of "passionate" writers (@shadowwalker) I once had someone post an excerpt of their work (on a fanfiction site) asking for critique. I pointed out a couple problems and praised them for being a "competent writer". Boy, did he get pissed I called him competent. He was quick to inform me that he was "passionate" about his work and had been writing for years. :tongue Whoops.

Anyway, thanks for the responses so far. Though I'm surprised some of you require excerpts before you'll sign on... what, like on the board? I guess if I ever ask for betas I'll post my first page in the appropriate SYW forum and link to it.

Channy
11-11-2013, 04:50 AM
Although no one has said out right specifically that one's reluctance to post something in SYW shows an inability to handle criticism or a superiority complex, I just want to offer an opinion of maybe why someone who never posted anything in SYW but asked for a beta (as I myself have done this).

I experienced a 3 beta swap with others here after posting to ask (and my thread was atrocious, I didn't really provide a link to the query, a tag line, I just offered the genre and I think a very brief summary of it. Maybe not even until I got the PMs from people and let them know what they were getting into) and I was completely humbled by the experience. Of course, some people mentioned, maybe I'll get some more replies if I link a thread of mine in SYW (which I hadn't made one yet) or offered a sample of my query (which I hadn't constructed yet) but I was just so overwhelmed with the idea of sharing my work (excited, scared, a little nauseated maybe) that I forgot all these things when making the initial thread.

Now, as to why I had never posted in SYW before, despite being around for over a year now, I am terrified. I can handle sharing (and swapping) with the odd handful of strangers and deal with one-on-one crits, but to lay out a whole chapter/summary/query to the forum and wait for the reaction... it's like bearing your soul to the world.

Little Anonymous Me
11-11-2013, 05:06 AM
Now, as to why I had never posted in SYW before, despite being around for over a year now, I am terrified. I can handle sharing (and swapping) with the odd handful of strangers and deal with one-on-one crits, but to lay out a whole chapter/summary/query to the forum and wait for the reaction... it's like bearing your soul to the world.


That's not an issue for me, as I'm the same way. Throwing my query up in SYW was the hardest thing I've done writing-wise to date, and that's my only writing sample on here. I feel a little ill when I look at the little number that says my thread's gotten over 1,200 views. (Actually, I feel very ill.) But seeing how someone acts when they've gotten criticism is an easy way to see if we'd work well together. And if I can't do that, I'll try and hunt down a thread where tempers flared a bit and see how the person did there.

mccardey
11-11-2013, 05:07 AM
Although no one has said out right specifically that one's reluctance to post something in SYW shows an inability to handle criticism or a superiority complex, I just want to offer an opinion of maybe why someone who never posted anything in SYW but asked for a beta (as I myself have done this).


I've never posted in SYW and I've never critted there either - but that's because I like a lot more face-to-face. I like to be able to see the people I'm talking to. I have beta'd though, for a few people. There are two writers especially whose work I loved to bits.

I think the most irritating thing that can happen is when you send back a beta-report to hear "Oh, yeah, thanks but I've already sent the ms out."

I like beta-reading, don't like critting so much. Oh - and I'd never offer to beta without having a three-chapter look-and-feel. I'm too old and life is too short.

ETA: Sorry - I just realised I didn't answer the topic question. I beta for people whose posts I've really enjoyed, who write in a genre I know I can speak on. Posting history is very important to me in deciding - I like to feel I can at least understand the writer before we begin.

buz
11-11-2013, 05:24 AM
This makes me wonder why someone would ask for a beta in the first place if they're not willing to be criticized.
Well, a think a lot of people expect to be told stuff like "I think you should tweak this section, add some more detail here, watch the grammar in this bit, etc" and then get hit with something like "I'm not at all interested in your character" or something much more major than they were expecting, which is understandably difficult to take. And then they get upset...;)


Though maybe I shouldn't be talking; I don't think I've ever angrily replied to someone giving me critique, but I have been known to sulk quietly.

Sulking quietly is perfectly acceptable. I mope profusely. :D


Anyway, thanks for the responses so far. Though I'm surprised some of you require excerpts before you'll sign on... what, like on the board? I guess if I ever ask for betas I'll post my first page in the appropriate SYW forum and link to it.

For me personally, it's not a requirement, but it really helps. The basic thing is that I like to have some idea of a) what the author is like and b) what the book is like, and SYW is sort of a shortcut to both. But there are other ways of doing it. Generally posting a lot so that people are familiar with your personality, and providing a good summary or something (or just blabbing about it somewhere on the forum)...as long as I can get a good impression, basically. :) (But that's just me speaking for me, not anyone else.) SYW also has the added bonus of showing how a writer may respond to criticism, which, again, is not *strictly* necessary for me to know, but the more information I have, the better.

mccardey
11-11-2013, 05:42 AM
SYW also has the added bonus of showing how a writer may respond to criticism, which, again, is not *strictly* necessary for me to know, but the more information I have, the better.

Not foolproof, though. I remember once in my very early days here, beta-ing for someone. It was before I realised SYW existed. Apparently the writer had posted an excerpt there, asking for a gentle crit and had received lots of affirmation and gentle crittage. So when I got back with a report that mentioned things like wobbly tenses, a narrative arc that jumped ship half-way through the book, and a rash of apostrophes, I got lots of very cross PMing.

ETA: My favourite of the PMs was the positively Freud-like (that's Clement, not Sigmund, and a rep if you saw what I did there) "Well, No-one Else Has Complained!"

Channy
11-11-2013, 07:43 AM
That's not an issue for me, as I'm the same way. Throwing my query up in SYW was the hardest thing I've done writing-wise to date, and that's my only writing sample on here. I feel a little ill when I look at the little number that says my thread's gotten over 1,200 views. (Actually, I feel very ill.)

It's frightening, isn't it? Sure, my mss had some issues and wasn't completely polished (but I did feel good about it) I just needed a fresh pair of eyes to look at it all through from beginning to end, and let me know what inconsistencies there were and if things didn't make sense. Not throw up a one off chapter shoot and expect a line by line analysis of why I shouldn't be a writer. :P


I've never posted in SYW and I've never critted there either - but that's because I like a lot more face-to-face. I like to be able to see the people I'm talking to. I have beta'd though, for a few people. There are two writers especially whose work I loved to bits.

I had only one beta irl/face to face which was my sister (who is also a fellow aspiring writer). However, she took so long to even start my mss that I had to give it out to others to get a reaction to it.


I think the most irritating thing that can happen is when you send back a beta-report to hear "Oh, yeah, thanks but I've already sent the ms out."

I like beta-reading, don't like critting so much. Oh - and I'd never offer to beta without having a three-chapter look-and-feel. I'm too old and life is too short.

The odd thing being is, I don't think having two reports is a bad thing. I swapped with three people at once (well, back to back for me, so I had time to read every one of their mss') because I wanted a couple disparaging opinions. If two of the three picked up on the same issues, then obviously it needed addressing. If each had varying opinions of what worked and what didn't, then I lay that to personal tastes and don't take it too personally. But then I go back and try ask them for clarification of those (for the issues that matter, anyway).

However, I try to also have a long lasting relationship with these few betas because I hope to maybe resend them reworked chapters to see if it's better (one of them has already done so for me)... the other two sort of dropped off/lost touch, and I understand that there's stuff going on that they can't, and it's okay. I, luckily so far, have not had a bad beta experience. But again, I've had only the three. (And right now I'm beta-ing for someone else in chapter chunks who tolerates my tardiness sometimes). I don't start a beta and not finish it, I think if you commit, you do so for a reason. So when all of them said things like "If you start reading and it's not your taste, just let me know" it flabbergasts me.

Oh, I've gone on a tangent again.


Well, a think a lot of people expect to be told stuff like "I think you should tweak this section, add some more detail here, watch the grammar in this bit, etc" and then get hit with something like "I'm not at all interested in your character" or something much more major than they were expecting, which is understandably difficult to take. And then they get upset...;)


While there's no reason to take that crit out on the critter (aha), do you know how heartwrenching that is?! When I first handed my mss out, all betas had an issue with two scenes where my MC lashes out, in a way that I had hoped would make her more human and appealing, and all of them said "Why is she doing this? She's so childish? It's not staying within her character. I can't relate to this." You'd think that these people had never been backstabbed before and confronted/punched someone for it. ;)


ETA: My favourite of the PMs was the positively Freud-like (that's Clement, not Sigmund, and a rep if you saw what I did there) "Well, No-one Else Has Complained!"

HAH.

mccardey
11-11-2013, 07:51 AM
The odd thing being is, I don't think having two reports is a bad thing. .

No - not two reports. I mean the writer had finished the project, called for betas - and then sent the ms out on sub while the betas were still reading. And having done that, responded to the beta reports by saying "Oh yeah, thanks - I won't need that after all. Sorry."

That particular writer isn't here now, so I don't know how submissions worked. I think not as well as was hoped.

Mutive
11-11-2013, 07:52 AM
I generally work with people I've worked with before. A lot of the time, they're someone who's betaed my short stories (or a novel, or query), or they're someone I've betaed, who throws out "if you ever need something betaed, come to me..." Because I don't want short term beta relationships, where I beta their novel and they vanish. (Or vice versa.) I want long term writing partnerships, where we both improve together.

This isn't 100% tit for tat. I've read and critiqued far more novels than I've had critiqued. (And some people have read my stuff who I haven't critiqued, too.) But I'm rarely interested in someone that I think has no interest in helping others.

Channy
11-11-2013, 08:20 AM
No - not two reports. I mean the writer had finished the project, called for betas - and then sent the ms out on sub while the betas were still reading. And having done that, responded to the beta reports by saying "Oh yeah, thanks - I won't need that after all. Sorry."

That particular writer isn't here now, so I don't know how submissions worked. I think not as well as was hoped.

Ahh! Gotcha. Yeah, you would think (or hope) that if you had been given an mss to beta read, but they either changed a lot or started subbing out to agents, then they would at least give you a heads up to quit or accept a new draft (if you were willing at that point). =/

buz
11-11-2013, 04:19 PM
While there's no reason to take that crit out on the critter (aha), do you know how heartwrenching that is?!

Yes. I have not spent my whole writing-life having sunshine blown up my butt. :D

Well, not that specific crit, no--but I have been told I needed to rewrite an entire book because I had no coherent plot and the whole thing didn't make sense, and other such major things. I do know how it feels. :) I do still need to go and recover for a day after getting beta responses on something. But the feeling gets much less "OMG MY MANUUUUSCRRIPPTAAH" and more "well this sucks. Okay, what can I do about it?" the more you both critique and get critiqued. So it seems for me, anyway. :)


When I first handed my mss out, all betas had an issue with two scenes where my MC lashes out, in a way that I had hoped would make her more human and appealing, and all of them said "Why is she doing this? She's so childish? It's not staying within her character. I can't relate to this." You'd think that these people had never been backstabbed before and confronted/punched someone for it. ;)Two scenes?? Puh. That's nothin'. ;)

hikarinotsubasa
11-11-2013, 06:54 PM
I don't think I'm here often enough to know whether I like a person's posts, unless it's someone who a. posts A LOT, b. made a very memorably good post or c. made a very memorably awful post. If it's just an average, nice but not groundbreakingly profound person, I probably don't really know them. So that's not a factor.

I will beta for you if:
A. Your genre and premise is something that I, as a reader, think I would enjoy.
B. I happen to have the free time.
C. Your PM to me is readable, as far as grammar and spelling, etc.

B is the real catch, though. Usually, if I say no, it's not you, it's me.

I will, however, decline to continue after the first sample chapters or (if there are no sample chapters and the writer just sends the whole MS) reply to let them know that I'm not going to continue reading, along with the notes I have so far and an explanation as to why, if there are too many grammar or spelling problems, or it just seems like too much of a chore to go on.

As far as writers not responding well... I've gotten that too, more with fanfiction than here but... wow, they want to debate every little thing! And I can understand if it's a question... like "Wow, I didn't mean that scene to come off that way AT ALL, but since that's how you interpreted it, can you tell me which parts specifically made you think A instead of B?" That's a legitimate discussion... but so often, it's just "Well, that's not what I meant, so it's your fault for misreading." The end. That's kind of frustrating.

As a writer, though, I've had betas who just didn't seem like the right audience for my work. Sometimes a beta will make suggestions, and I won't see where they're coming from at all. Not so much a matter of "You wanted to say A, but I read it as B" but, "I know you meant A, but I like B better, so change it."

I have also had, "I don't like the scene where (something that never happened) happened." That confused me... I wasn't sure if the beta had misinterpreted something I'd written (which could be GREAT feedback, if people are inferring something happening off-camera that I didn't mean!) or was talking about something else, or what.

It also bothers me when a beta has something of mine for two or three weeks, and sends it back to me with no inline comments and a one paragraph: "This was pretty good. I liked Character A, not so hot on Character B. Maybe take out some adverbs." at the end. Really? It took you THREE WEEKS to come up with that? Can we at least have some feedback on why Character B was so awful... just not your type, or were they badly written? No comments on plot or setting or pacing or tone at all?

....so, I can kind of understand writers being upset, sometimes. I think the bottom line is just to be honest. Writers, if you think your beta is just not "getting" it, and other beta readers or critique partners are, feel free to say so. And betas, if the MS doesn't hold your interest enough to come up with something but "Liked this, not this, less adverbs," let the writer know. "I stopped reading after Chapter 2 because..." can be valuable feedback too. ;)

Channy
11-11-2013, 10:17 PM
Yes. I have not spent my whole writing-life having sunshine blown up my butt. :D

Well, not that specific crit, no--but I have been told I needed to rewrite an entire book because I had no coherent plot and the whole thing didn't make sense, and other such major things. I do know how it feels. :) I do still need to go and recover for a day after getting beta responses on something. But the feeling gets much less "OMG MY MANUUUUSCRRIPPTAAH" and more "well this sucks. Okay, what can I do about it?" the more you both critique and get critiqued. So it seems for me, anyway. :)

Aha, but was it the first book you had every written, or the second, third, fifth, tenth of your work? I think people are especially hypersensitive of their first ever completed work. They just spend months, years, maybe even a decade or a half to finish it, and then somebody just comes up all willy nilly pointing out every flaw? (OF COURSE they have flaws, but I think first time writers wear nothing but rose tinted glasses until a pro (agent, editor, etc) points out the flaws and therefore, is a "valid" complaint.)


Two scenes?? Puh. That's nothin'. ;)

That was probably the worst of it. Which, when tied in with "The character is too passive", makes me throw my hands up in the air and say "What do you want from me? She's too passive, but I give her scenes to hopefully add emotional depth and dimension and it's still not right."

klewis
11-11-2013, 10:46 PM
I agree with what everyone is saying-
not that I have done it here- but what drives me crazy is like what someone else said- you spend all that time, give back notes and they declare they already sent it to a publisher or agent and you know...cause you just read it.... if wasn't ready!!
Or you critique- and do it the right way sandwiching your criticism between praise and they only hear the negative and they were the ones asking you to look at it- I always tell them- "Don't give it to me unless you want an honest critique- "
had someone follow me around a conference telling how everyone else had told her something different!!
My only request, at least considered my suggestions- if you agree, great, if you don't , put them in the "dumpster of worthless ideas" and you don't have to tell me either way!

klewis
11-11-2013, 10:53 PM
Oh... and don't attach you worth as a human being to my critique of your manuscript!

Channy
11-11-2013, 10:58 PM
"Don't give it to me unless you want an honest critique- "

Exactly. I don't want to give it out unless people are going to be brutally honest. We're in the business of learning as well as writing, and if people won't be honest, what are we learning about ourselves and our faults? Nuffin!

But I guess some people are just in it for an ego stroke. :P

Maryn
11-11-2013, 11:00 PM
Good point. It's worth the careful wording to keep mentioning "this story," "the character's motives," "the way the plot turns," and such to remind the author you're working on the execution, not the creator.

There's a huge difference between "This makes no sense to me unless Laurie's gone crazy" and "the reader may struggle to understand why Laurie acts as she does."

Maryn, who works hard at that aspect

slhuang
11-11-2013, 11:00 PM
Aha, but was it the first book you had every written, or the second, third, fifth, tenth of your work? I think people are especially hypersensitive of their first ever completed work. They just spend months, years, maybe even a decade or a half to finish it, and then somebody just comes up all willy nilly pointing out every flaw? (OF COURSE they have flaws, but I think first time writers wear nothing but rose tinted glasses until a pro (agent, editor, etc) points out the flaws and therefore, is a "valid" complaint.)

I agree that it's hard to ask for feedback. But I'd rather someone else point out major flaws before an agent or editor or reviewer did . . .

This is one of the reasons why I think learning to crit has been one of the single most useful things for my own writing. I figured out that my first couple of books weren't up to snuff all on my own, and thus spared myself the crushing pain of having a beta tell me. :D Trunking those books was bittersweet, but it was probably less painful and embarrassing than if someone else had pointed out all the flaws instead of gradually becoming aware of them myself. On the other hand, it was probably a slower learning curve, so what do I know! Maybe I would've learned faster if I'd asked someone to critique them and gotten my heart ripped out. :D

(I wrote my first novel ten years ago. I sent a novel to betas for the first time a month ago. And yes, my betas still had plenty of feedback for me!)

Oh, and in re: the people who've talked about SYW being terrifying, since I'm one of the people who said I look for SYW excerpts -- no worries, that's totally understandable. And personally, even though I do look for SYW excerpts, I'll often agree to beta for people who haven't posted there either because I like them or I've enjoyed their other posts. Like LAM -- if you asked me to beta, I'd almost certainly say yes (unless I didn't have the time at the moment), because I've enjoyed interacting with you elsewhere on the boards and you seem like a cool person. :D SYW excerpts have tipped me over into offering when I otherwise wouldn't have in cases when 1) I didn't know the poster that well or 2) the book was outside my genre, but in the cases in which this has happened, I would've said yes even without SYW excerpts if those posters had PMed me directly and asked me to beta for them.

Ton Lew Lepsnaci
11-11-2013, 11:13 PM
Something that piques my interest would be a great title.

I mostly dwell in SYW and select based on the title. I'm picky. If the title is not very original ("Sword of Whatchamacallit", I'm looking at you), I won't bite.

buz
11-12-2013, 12:48 AM
Aha, but was it the first book you had every written, or the second, third, fifth, tenth of your work? I think people are especially hypersensitive of their first ever completed work. They just spend months, years, maybe even a decade or a half to finish it, and then somebody just comes up all willy nilly pointing out every flaw? (OF COURSE they have flaws, but I think first time writers wear nothing but rose tinted glasses until a pro (agent, editor, etc) points out the flaws and therefore, is a "valid" complaint.)

I think that's true to some extent. Well, to most extents? ;)

The book I completely rewrote was my first. My second manuscript required-and-still-requires extensive revision (possibly getting rid of some characters or changing them significantly, deleting and adding scenes, fiddling with voice, that sort of thing), but I didn't have to scrap the whole thing, so I consider that improvement. Hopefully I'll do better on my third, but I've done some things with it that could be gawdawful if I didn't do them just right, so who knows. :p But I like to think I'm learning. Hurr hurr.

Anyway. I'm not saying that no one should have an emotional reaction--I think an emotional reaction of some sort is normal. But a writer of any skill level can learn to differentiate between "this person is attacking me" and "this person is pointing out flaws to make me a better writer"--those will generate different sorts of reactions and one of them, obviously, is not great for a crit relationship. ;) That's all I mean to say. I think. I kind of forgot...errr yeeaah. :)




That was probably the worst of it. Which, when tied in with "The character is too passive", makes me throw my hands up in the air and say "What do you want from me? She's too passive, but I give her scenes to hopefully add emotional depth and dimension and it's still not right."It's super frustrating to try to correct something and end up with unintended consequences :) Revision is SO FUN ISN'T IT?? :D

Viridian
11-12-2013, 01:44 AM
Oh... and don't attach you worth as a human being to my critique of your manuscript!

OMFG, yes.

Channy
11-12-2013, 04:20 AM
Good point. It's worth the careful wording to keep mentioning "this story," "the character's motives," "the way the plot turns," and such to remind the author you're working on the execution, not the creator.

There's a huge difference between "This makes no sense to me unless Laurie's gone crazy" and "the reader may struggle to understand why Laurie acts as she does."

I try to do this as much as possible. It's not helping anyone if you just say "this is stupid" or "this makes no sense" because you're not offering why. Unless I'm totally lost on what the writer is trying to mean by the sentence, I try to specify/ask what is meant by something that bugs me as a reader.


I agree that it's hard to ask for feedback. But I'd rather someone else point out major flaws before an agent or editor or reviewer did . . .

This is one of the reasons why I think learning to crit has been one of the single most useful things for my own writing. I figured out that my first couple of books weren't up to snuff all on my own, and thus spared myself the crushing pain of having a beta tell me. :D Trunking those books was bittersweet, but it was probably less painful and embarrassing than if someone else had pointed out all the flaws instead of gradually becoming aware of them myself. On the other hand, it was probably a slower learning curve, so what do I know! Maybe I would've learned faster if I'd asked someone to critique them and gotten my heart ripped out. :D

(I wrote my first novel ten years ago. I sent a novel to betas for the first time a month ago. And yes, my betas still had plenty of feedback for me!)

It's definitely better to have someone try and break the bad news to you who's not a pro, but maybe people don't take them as seriously if they're not a pro. "Oh, you don't know what you're talking about. What credentials do you have? What have you published?"

I'm merely speculating at this point, lol.

And learning how crit definitely goes hand in hand with learning how to take it. Learning how to tactfully hand out comments helps you appreciate, I think, when people give you the same comments in return and then you realize it's not a personal attack but, "Oh wow, my first five chapters ARE really slow."


I think that's true to some extent. Well, to most extents? ;)

Anyway. I'm not saying that no one should have an emotional reaction--I think an emotional reaction of some sort is normal. But a writer of any skill level can learn to differentiate between "this person is attacking me" and "this person is pointing out flaws to make me a better writer"--those will generate different sorts of reactions and one of them, obviously, is not great for a crit relationship. ;) That's all I mean to say. I think. I kind of forgot...errr yeeaah. :)

It's super frustrating to try to correct something and end up with unintended consequences :) Revision is SO FUN ISN'T IT?? :D

How can you not have an emotional reaction though? I mean, you need to learn how to try and handle these things but we all spend months on these books... it's like our baby! Carrying it for nine months and then finally putting it on display for a select few and they turn around to say "Ohh look at that face!" Which sucks because as much as you love the story and the world you created, you need to learn how to put a safe amount of distance between you and it and come to terms that it's not as perfect as you'd imagined.

SUPER DUPER FRUSTRATING. Argh. I'm starting from scratch/rewriting everything now and it's just so daunting to even start with all these revisions in mind.

buz
11-12-2013, 04:31 AM
How can you not have an emotional reaction though?

Well...that's what I said :D Having an emotional reaction is quite normal.


I mean, you need to learn how to try and handle these things but we all spend months on these books... it's like our baby! Carrying it for nine months and then finally putting it on display for a select few and they turn around to say "Ohh look at that face!" Which sucks because as much as you love the story and the world you created, you need to learn how to put a safe amount of distance between you and it and come to terms that it's not as perfect as you'd imagined.
What an unfortunate baby...:D
I wouldn't cut a baby apart, throw bits of it in the trash, stick other limbs onto it, say "I don't like this baby's goddamn FACE, let's mess it up some" and then try to sell my baby. :D I wouldn't produce a baby for the purpose of selling it...;)

I will admit that it probably helps that by the time I'm done writing the first draft, I'm totally sick of the stupid thing. And that's before the first round of edits, even, before I expose it to other eyes. So imagine how much I hate it by the time I send it...

Thus my own emotional turmoil is usually of the "I suck at writing, I'll never get this, I'm so stupid" variety. :D


SUPER DUPER FRUSTRATING. Argh. I'm starting from scratch/rewriting everything now and it's just so daunting to even start with all these revisions in mind.Yuh. I always think I hate the first draft-writing the most, and then I get to the revising. And I'm all, no, THIS is the worst part...

Actually I think I kind of hate all of it except the "it's over" bit. :D Love-hate. Hatelike. Frenemies? I'm frenemies with writing. So fetch. ...omg I'm so tired :p

Mutive
11-12-2013, 07:00 PM
How can you not have an emotional reaction though?

You always have one. Always.

But there's a difference between freaking out and either a) ignoring the writer who just spent a lot of his/her own time giving you a critique, b) blasting them with a long rant about how they didn't "get" you, and c) sitting on the emotional reaction for a few days, thinking about what parts of the critique you agreed with, genuinely thanking the writer for their advice, and possibly asking a few questions to help yourself improve.

I think the key is remembering that betas aren't sadists. They're doing this to help you improve, not to beat you down. If you can see a critique that way, it's still hard to not be like, "Why don't you love me!!!" But you can at least work around that instinctual feeling.

quicklime
11-13-2013, 04:28 AM
How can you not have an emotional reaction though? I mean, you need to learn how to try and handle these things but we all spend months on these books... it's like our baby! Carrying it for nine months and then finally putting it on display for a select few and they turn around to say "Ohh look at that face!" Which sucks because as much as you love the story and the world you created, you need to learn how to put a safe amount of distance between you and it and come to terms that it's not as perfect as you'd imagined.

.


the simple, short answer is because I'm NOT gestating love-babehs in my womb, I'm trying to build a product. It isn't my baby, it is my commodity offering. Which means the customer votes, not me.

slhuang
11-13-2013, 04:41 AM
the simple, short answer is because I'm NOT gestating love-babehs in my womb, I'm trying to build a product.

Or because you are a callous and unfeeling stone of a person. :D

Although, for serious, I agree on the "my writing is not my baby" front. Buz ninja'ed me with a much better description of it -- I wouldn't take my babies apart and tinker with them and put them back together to be better. Although, now that I'm thinking about it, that DOES sound like much more fun than actually raising the child . . . :D *brain zooms off in fun genetics and cybernetics directions ZOMG MAYBE I CAN CONSTRUCT A TRANSHUMAN TEST TUBE BABY THAT IS HALF-ROBOT THAT WOULD BE THE COOLEST THING EVARZ*

Okay, it's possible I do treat my writing like I would treat my children. It's also entirely possible that I should not be allowed to have children.

(obligatory xkcd (http://xkcd.com/441/))

http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/babies.png

Little Anonymous Me
11-13-2013, 05:01 AM
Like LAM -- if you asked me to beta, I'd almost certainly say yes (unless I didn't have the time at the moment), because I've enjoyed interacting with you elsewhere on the boards and you seem like a cool person. :D SYW excerpts have tipped me over into offering when I otherwise wouldn't have in cases when 1) I didn't know the poster that well or 2) the book was outside my genre, but in the cases in which this has happened, I would've said yes even without SYW excerpts if those posters had PMed me directly and asked me to beta for them.


You know who has a warm fuzzy? This somebunny. :Hug2: Awwwww.


But yes. I've looked at queries/excerpts where I think the story looks cool, only to end up being all 'HELLLL NOOO" after seeing how they react. Good litmus test is good. :D



It's super frustrating to try to correct something and end up with unintended consequences :) Revision is SO FUN ISN'T IT?? :D


It's like you're saying this to taunt me. *curls up in a ball and cries*



How can you not have an emotional reaction though?


Heh. If it makes you feel any better, I have literally screamed "What the :censored is wrong with you, moron??" in the privacy of my house where only my family can doubt my sanity. We do not all handle critiques gracefully. We just act like we do in public. ;) Which, in all honesty, is the thing. No one will ever know you're doing a war chant or stabbing magical dolls with needles when you're reading your crits so long as your internet face shows manners. :tongue

mccardey
11-13-2013, 05:13 AM
it's like our baby! .It's not. And every time you say that, a plot-goblin pricks up its ears... :evil

Just letting you know.

bewarethejabb
11-13-2013, 10:25 AM
This is a super helpful thread and should be stickied. It made me realize that, duh, I hadn't put forth any kind of summary when requesting a beta, just told you all what an asshole I am when I beta someone else. Y'know, because THAT'S reason to want to read my work.

Regarding me beta-ing someone else, I think I'd respond best to a well-written query. That's what a query is supposed to do, no? Cold-call convince someone to read your ms? I respond to the best queries by saying "holy crap, I'd demand pages," so I guess that's exactly what I can do in the context of taking on betas.

quicklime
11-13-2013, 10:28 PM
Or because you are a callous and unfeeling stone of a person. :D




*callously ignores your comment




ZOMG MAYBE I CAN CONSTRUCT A TRANSHUMAN TEST TUBE BABY THAT IS HALF-ROBOT


critique: make your babies less asiany

Channy
11-14-2013, 06:40 AM
What an unfortunate baby...:D
I wouldn't cut a baby apart, throw bits of it in the trash, stick other limbs onto it, say "I don't like this baby's goddamn FACE, let's mess it up some" and then try to sell my baby. :D I wouldn't produce a baby for the purpose of selling it...;)


Although, for serious, I agree on the "my writing is not my baby" front. Buz ninja'ed me with a much better description of it -- I wouldn't take my babies apart and tinker with them and put them back together to be better. Although, now that I'm thinking about it, that DOES sound like much more fun than actually raising the child . . . :D *brain zooms off in fun genetics and cybernetics directions ZOMG MAYBE I CAN CONSTRUCT A TRANSHUMAN TEST TUBE BABY THAT IS HALF-ROBOT THAT WOULD BE THE COOLEST THING EVARZ*


the simple, short answer is because I'm NOT gestating love-babehs in my womb, I'm trying to build a product. It isn't my baby, it is my commodity offering. Which means the customer votes, not me.


It's not. And every time you say that, a plot-goblin pricks up its ears... :evil

Just letting you know.

Clearly EVERYONE hates their manuscripts. And their children. Suddenly it's all becoming clear now. :tongue


I will admit that it probably helps that by the time I'm done writing the first draft, I'm totally sick of the stupid thing. And that's before the first round of edits, even, before I expose it to other eyes. So imagine how much I hate it by the time I send it...

Thus my own emotional turmoil is usually of the "I suck at writing, I'll never get this, I'm so stupid" variety. :D

Yuh. I always think I hate the first draft-writing the most, and then I get to the revising. And I'm all, no, THIS is the worst part...

I would think the initial writing part is the best! You have all these neat little knickknacky ideas floating around that the story is so full of possibilities.. then you revise once.. then you give it to betas and it's the perpetual "Oh, God.. Why...." moment of how anyone could ever finish the story with a straight face, and then more revising? Yeah, then it's just downright grating. I try to escape these hell by writing either A, book 2, or B, several small little short story/novellas that I want to pub as a package. ANYTHING to get my mind off the main first novel. But now it's come to that point. There's no avoiding it anymore.


But there's a difference between freaking out and either a) ignoring the writer who just spent a lot of his/her own time giving you a critique, b) blasting them with a long rant about how they didn't "get" you, and c) sitting on the emotional reaction for a few days, thinking about what parts of the critique you agreed with, genuinely thanking the writer for their advice, and possibly asking a few questions to help yourself improve.

I think the key is remembering that betas aren't sadists. They're doing this to help you improve, not to beat you down. If you can see a critique that way, it's still hard to not be like, "Why don't you love me!!!" But you can at least work around that instinctual feeling.



Heh. If it makes you feel any better, I have literally screamed "What the :censored is wrong with you, moron??" in the privacy of my house where only my family can doubt my sanity. We do not all handle critiques gracefully. We just act like we do in public. ;) Which, in all honesty, is the thing. No one will ever know you're doing a war chant or stabbing magical dolls with needles when you're reading your crits so long as your internet face shows manners. :tongue

Hah, yeah. The first time I had my first completed beta critique handed back to me, I stared at all the red marks in the comments column with this shit eating grin on my face, (actually it was more like Tim Curry in Home Alone 2.. http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_D_oFgqxhBlY/TNrdIuaeagI/AAAAAAAADAI/_zT4eH-qFBE/s400/tim%2Bcurry.jpg )wondering where I went wrong, how I could have missed so many things, and thank GOD that this person didn't run away from me screaming.

quicklime
11-14-2013, 06:43 AM
i don't hate anything...I'm just not personalizing it to where its hard to accept fixing it.

Its a product, nothing more.

Viridian
11-14-2013, 07:08 AM
I feel more like my manuscript is my baby, and I want my baby to be as good a product as possible. Except when it can't be (like when I decide to write for a tiny market).

Also, I hate babies. :evil

Mutive
11-14-2013, 08:50 AM
i don't hate anything...I'm just not personalizing it to where its hard to accept fixing it.



I only personalize it when it *really* deserves it. Like some person asked me to beta read their manuscript that starts off with an obese woman pooing mountains of chocolate and peeing waterfalls of shimmering gold. In a very sexy way.

That's where I throw up my hands in the air.

I can fix some stuff. Some stuff, I just accept is probably someone else's kink and I'm the wrong audience.

juliatheswede
11-15-2013, 01:41 AM
For me I need to not dislike the genre--I really don't like high fantasy--and there has to be a somewhat compelling summary of the story. In other words, if the genre is something I don't hate--no offense to all the fantasy writers!--and it sounds interesting and the person offers to swap, I'm game for at least trading a chapter or two to see if we're a match. The piece needs to also not be a first draft. I really don't care how active a poster has been on this forum before. I found a great beta from a newbie--in fact, it was how I found the person with whom I traded stories that eventually got a contract (bad grammar there, yes, I know). Sadly, this person, while a great beta, is a bit slow for my taste (also is a little depressed I suspect. No, correction. Very depressed). It's too bad. Anyway, many times I've found that people get very upset if you don't love their stories and so the beta relationship ends. Even if they say they want you to be honest, often they can't handle it. (I swear, I'm not super mean in my critiques... At least, it's not my intention.) If the writing needs a lot of work, I'm not likely to continue.

ElaineA
11-15-2013, 02:36 AM
I only personalize it when it *really* deserves it. Like some person asked me to beta read their manuscript that starts off with an obese woman pooing mountains of chocolate and peeing waterfalls of shimmering gold. In a very sexy way.


:Jaw:
I wanna ask...I really do. But NO! No, I don't want to know.

Kathl33n
01-21-2014, 10:01 PM
I generally work with people I've worked with before. A lot of the time, they're someone who's betaed my short stories (or a novel, or query), or they're someone I've betaed, who throws out "if you ever need something betaed, come to me..." Because I don't want short term beta relationships, where I beta their novel and they vanish. (Or vice versa.) I want long term writing partnerships, where we both improve together.
.

This.

Except that two of my betas had some difficulties in their lives that became too challenging, leaving less and less time available to continue.
One decided she needed to go back to college and get a degree while working full time, leaving her without much time for anything else. I do have one other beta, but it's nice to have more than one opinion, so I am branching out, trying to find at least one more good fit.

I like finding someone in my genre (Romantic Suspense, or Contemporary Romance), but that's not always possible. I have a beta right now who writes Paranormal Thrillers, something I'd never thought about reading. I'll have to say, it's pretty darn cool stuff!! So, that's a good thing, and it's opened my eyes to another genre I wouldn't have picked on my own.

It's also nice to have that relationship to continue on, bounce ideas off of, and that kind of thing. It's nice to be able to say in an email, "Hey, this isn't working and I can't figure out why."

And of course, I'd always reciprocate.

Ton Lew Lepsnaci
01-21-2014, 10:42 PM
I go by title first. Interesting titles tell me something about the author's potential/attention to detail. Then I check out their SYW contribution. If that holds my attention, I read the beta request again to double check its vibe. When all works out, I usually propose a swap of a few chapters. If that works out well, we work out a plan to take it from there.

So far the experiences have been great.

Drachen Jager
01-22-2014, 02:36 AM
I always, always check SYW.

If I'm not really into their writing and the story I'm not going to do it. I've done that too many times and grinding through 90,000 words of something you don't love is too much of a chore.

I think that's why many agents insist on only picking projects they personally love. A good agent will have to read that manuscript several times over before they're done.

Fortunately I'm getting good enough that my SYWs get volunteer betas. Hopefully that means a good* agent isn't far behind.

*I've had an agent. Now what I'd like is a good one.

buz
01-22-2014, 02:41 AM
:Jaw:
I wanna ask...I really do. But NO! No, I don't want to know.

I know what you're thinking (er, were thinking, in November), but it wasn't me.

LAgrunion
01-22-2014, 12:33 PM
I’ve betaed for five AWers. I agreed to beta their MS because their writing was good (my primary criterion), judging by their queries in QLH. I checked their SYW excerpts if they had something, but the lack thereof was not a deal breaker. Good writing in a query was enough to give me confidence in the writing of the MS. In all five cases, the quality of the writing in the MS matched my expectations.

My interest in the story was secondary. I’m a literary omnivore, pretty open to just about any genre. Except I tend to shy away from high fantasy.

Not having many AW posts is not a deal breaker, as long they’re willing to swap. Though it always helps if I can skim the posts for a sense of the writer's personality.

Placing restrictions my feedback is usually a deal breaker. Like, “harsh is okay as long as it’s constructive,” “be gentle,” etc. I don’t know what is constructive or gentle enough for another person. Someone telling me my story sucks or is boring, even without further explanation or suggestion, is helpful because that is new information I didn’t know before. I always tell my betas to say whatever they want.

I offered to beta for a couple AWers without prompting because their writing was good and I personally like them from past interactions.

Anninyn
01-22-2014, 01:09 PM
A number of things:

- they have to be writing a genre I enjoy
- their description of the book has to sound at least a little different and original
- I tend to be more likely to say 'yes' to people who are active, contributing members of AW, even more likely if they've posted and critiqued work in SYW
- honest about what they want from the beta

Putputt
01-22-2014, 01:26 PM
How have I missed this thread!! Or have I posted on it and then forgotten...?? Okay, whatevs.

Let's see...I've beta'ed for um...quite a few AWers. These are a few of the ones I remember:

Person 1: Approached me after I posted on the Willing Betas thread. Never interacted with him before, but he had a high post count and his query looked good. Never heard from him again after LBL-ing his first three chapters.

Person 2: Again, approached me because of the Willing Betas thread. He was an AW newbie, and gave a very snotty reply to my LBL of his first two chapters. I didn't bother replying.

Person 3: Approached me after the Willing Betas post...I'd seen her around on AW and had an amazingly huge hippoboner for her, so I pretty much went, "OMGYESPLSOMGSENDITNOW". It was the hilariousest book I had ever read, and I latched on to her leg and never let go. She remains one of my bestest betas to this day. :D

Person 4: We'd been talking (okay, bitching) for months. I kept bugging her to show me some of her stuff, and she finally did. Now she's like an...alpha? A CP? I dunno, whatever you call one of them things.

Person 5: I was terrified of him, but his crits on QLH were pretty legendary, so, with butt-clenching fear, I requested a beta read from him. It turned out to be as helpful as a shattered penis, and then, because I had offered a swap, I had to slog through his godawful book about some Ayshuny chick doing martial arts in Wisconsin. Turrible stuff. Still feel the need to pour bleach over my naked eyeballs just to forget it.

Person 6: I asked her for a beta-read because she's like, from Caltech or whatever. No, she's from the other Tech school, the Caltech-wannabe. :tongue She tore my books apart, so I asked to read hers to return the favor. Her book turned out to be near-perfect. Stupid techy personthing. ETA: Memory fail. I offered her a beta read becuz she was seducing me with nerdy math love notes.

Person 7: Approached me with a PM that started with, "O magnificent hippo..." I couldn't say no to such a PM. :D

Erm, and many others...but I think the pattern, aside from Persons 1 and 2, is that I now only beta for (and ask for betas from) people I know and like. Also people who address me as "O magnificent hippo" or people who write me coded love notes.

slhuang
01-22-2014, 03:59 PM
Person 6: I asked her for a beta-read because she's like, from Caltech or whatever. No, she's from the other Tech school, the Caltech-wannabe. :tongue

Wait, Person #6 went to Harvard? :tongue

You actually offered to beta read for me first, but mah book wasn't ready, and I offered back so ended up reading your books first. I'm betting yew regret that initial PM now.....mwahahahaha! As for why you offered initially, I have no idea. :D Probably because I wrote you creepy mathematical love notes....

Putputt
01-22-2014, 04:03 PM
Wait, Person #6 went to Harvard? :tongue

You actually offered to beta read for me first, but mah book wasn't ready, and I offered back so ended up reading your books first. I'm betting yew regret that initial PM now.....mwahahahaha! As for why you offered initially, I have no idea. :D Probably because I wrote you creepy mathematical love notes....

Omg you're right!! I offered to beta because you sent me that love note!! *goes to amend post* Awww, those innocent days, wherein I had no idea what I was in for...

slhuang
01-22-2014, 04:21 PM
Omg you're right!! I offered to beta because you sent me that love note!! *goes to amend post* Awww, those innocent days, wherein I had no idea what I was in for...

OMG is that really why? :roll: And here I thought it was my scintillating brilliance on the boards. Ah, well....

Note to self: Seduce more AWers via matrix algebra. Gets 'em every time. :D

quicklime
01-22-2014, 07:48 PM
Person 5: I was terrified of him, but his crits on QLH were pretty legendary, so, with butt-clenching fear, I requested a beta read from him. It turned out to be as helpful as a shattered penis, and then, because I had offered a swap, I had to slog through his godawful book about some Ayshuny chick doing martial arts in Wisconsin. Turrible stuff. Still feel the need to pour bleach over my naked eyeballs just to forget it.

.


THIS post?

*shakes head

I remember I was a piss-poor beta for that, especially the mudfish chapter


btw, there was no martial arts because the girl in the story had scrawny bird-arms...she could hold a gun and used that, but martial arts? It'd be like being attached by an anemic third-grader.

Bing Z
01-22-2014, 08:51 PM
Erm, and many others...but I think the pattern, aside from Persons 1 and 2, is that I now only beta for (and ask for betas from) people I know and like.
O magnificent hippo,

Would you happen to have a few spare Bitcorns????

An anonymous, broke hippo fan

Blinkk
01-22-2014, 09:55 PM
lol, this thread is awesome.

I like when the author tells me what feedback they're specifically looking for. If they say, "I think my pacing is bad," or ask upfront "is the ending satisfying?" or something, then I'm more apt to agree to edit their work. It shows they're ready for feedback and they're less likely to be defensive about edits. Plus, it always helps me to know what to focus on. I've gotten some manuscripts that were so bad I was left thinking, "Where do I even begin?" Had they said, "what do you think of my characters?" then I'd know to focus on characterization more than the serious plot holes and things...

Also like Anninyn and Drachen said, I have to like their work. This basically means, fantasy, action, mystery, horror or just seriously awesome writing. Or cupcakes. (I'll do anything for cupcakz.)

ZerosJourney
01-23-2014, 02:20 AM
I really only look for three things.

1. Genre. I only beta fantasy, because I mostly only read fantasy. If I don't enjoy the genre and don't know its conventions, I'm probably not going to be much help.

2. Some indication of prior revision. I don't mind flawed manuscripts, but if it's a 50k novel fresh out of NaNo or a "120k so far, but I'm not done yet" I'll pass. Nothing annoys me more than slogging through a meandering MS littered with typos and plot holes, only to have the author come back and say, "lol yeah, I already knew those were problems but I wanted to get some feedback before I changed anything." There's a difference between not realizing something isn't working and not respecting your betas enough to put your best work forward.

3. An intriguing description. It has to be something I want to read, something I think could be amazing. For example: Romance doesn't generally hold my attention (regardless of how well written it is) so I'll pass on a second-revision, 80k YA Fantasy if the summary puts a love triangle front and center.

Becca C.
01-24-2014, 01:19 AM
1. I have to sort of know the writer. Seeing them around AW enough to recognize their avatar/signature and have a positive impression is pretty much enough. No newbies, unless they have a real personality and are obviously contributing to the community.

2. The genre has to be one that I enjoy enough to read for pleasure, and know well enough to have intelligent opinions on it and know when something is original or cliché. I'm not going to much help reading something if I've never read it before. So I'm really only comfortable beta reading YA, and mostly contemporary/thriller/magical realism YA, at that. I wouldn't be comfortable reading anything aimed at an adult market, and my enthusiasm for most fantasy and sci-fi is, ahem, not so great.

3. I have to really want to do it. If I don't absolutely want to read the work in question, I'll drag my heels and take forever, and that's not fair to the author. I pretty much only beta read as a swap for someone betaing for me, or sometimes I'll offer, if someone's work seems like something I'd want to read -- and don't want to wait for the fabulous thing to be published :P

Putputt
01-24-2014, 02:30 AM
O magnificent hippo,

Would you happen to have a few spare Bitcorns????

An anonymous, broke hippo fan

Are Bitcorns like corn nuts? Cause those are delishus and yew can't have any of mine!

thedark
02-04-2014, 09:12 PM
I beta read for others when their theme catches my interest, and, like others here have said, if the author seems receptive to feedback.

I've had a few experiences where I've shared my time and my heart helping with another person's full-length novel, and didn't receive a reply or a thank you. I've learned to screen better - it's more than just the theme; it's the author themselves. My best experiences as a beta reader have been with folks looking for critique partners, who keep me informed as their novel moves towards publication (because it's delightful to watch their work succeed!) and who engage in ongoing dialogue.

I'm new to the AW forums, and in just two months, I recognize names and personalities of other regulars - some of whom I would be honored to work with. Folks that provide and expect honesty and are polite and constructive in their comments.

I'll scan through someone's recent posts and try to get a sense of their personality and their commitment to the AW community. Are they truly looking for a beta reader, or are they looking for an ego boost? Are they also providing feedback to others? Not necessarily with me--my novel is a psychological thriller about a young vigilante captured by a vindictive terrorist organization (it comes with some trigger warnings)--but are they offering feedback to the community as a whole?

To sum all that up, I suppose I look for an author who truly wants constructive feedback, and who is willing to pay it forward to someone else.

And unless the story is REALLY striking a chord with me, I won't beta when heavy grammar issues are apparent. It takes too long, and shows that the author didn't do their due diligence in putting their best draft forward. I'm happy to spend my time on their draft, so long as they have too.

And of course... I only offer to beta read when I truly have time to do their work justice and return it in a timely fashion.

jtrylch13
02-06-2014, 06:39 AM
i don't hate anything...I'm just not personalizing it to where its hard to accept fixing it.

Its a product, nothing more.

Ouch! Coooold! Yes, it is a product, but if an artist doesn't have their heart and soul into it, I feel it shows: music, art, novels, etc. To each his own, I guess.

Still, you have a very valid point in that you do have to distance yourself from your "baby" or your "art" or your "heart and soul" and definitely don't take it personal.


What I look for in a Beta relationship is compatibility. Knowing each other on the forums helps, writing similar age group and genres helps too. I can beta for almost any type of book, but I don't want someone who doesn't read my genre critting my work, just because I'm not sure where they're coming from.

On another note, does anyone feel that telling a beta upfront what you are looking for is like red flagging the book to find certain flaws? I mean being specific, like "Is the beginning too slow?" or "Does MC's love relationship seem flat and superficial?" If someone thinks that, I want to know, but I don't want to plant ideas.

aus10phile
02-07-2014, 07:25 AM
On another note, does anyone feel that telling a beta upfront what you are looking for is like red flagging the book to find certain flaws? I mean being specific, like "Is the beginning too slow?" or "Does MC's love relationship seem flat and superficial?" If someone thinks that, I want to know, but I don't want to plant ideas.

Yes! I worry about this. I don't like the idea of planting a seed and getting the... 'well now that you mention it' response...

That being said, I have asked my betas about the beginning of my book and whether it makes you want to read more, because beginnings are so crucial.

For the most part, however, I'd rather ask some of those specific questions after the fact so they can read it with no preconceived notions.

To answer the original question of the thread... at this point I've only read for a few people, and all have approached me because of the willing betas thread. So I guess what piqued my interest was that they PMed me and asked me to read their stuff. Ha ha. But if I thought that their story didn't sound like my kind of thing, I would have said no. I think it takes a super experienced critter to crit outside their area of interest for an entire book.