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Betas and Authors: Share Your Good Experiences

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Editing for authors: because every writer needs a good editor.

Clovitide

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My friend and I usually swap stories. I found him through another writing forum a couple years back, when I was still a child, 17 and thinking I'm going to break out and become something with my first written novel. He read the first one, and the second one and asked for a third one. He gave me so much motivation because I had also asked others to read through it and most of them could not get through the first couple of chapters. one stopped responding to my emails all together. Pretty disheartening, actually, for young 17 year old me, but he kept me going with our constant correspondence. We still chat to this day, trading critiques and novels. He's been such a great help.

That story was a failure, though. Then I got another story beta read that was not any better, and now I have two pretty sweet stories I don;t want to give out because of those bad apples from before. My one friend still wants to read them, but I've been holding off for some time.
 

BonafideDreamer

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I received a very blunt line by line critique/ general summary of feedback from a beta on another site. I have to admit that was one of my favorite critiques so far. Her bluntness was constructive and really helped and motivated me to trim a lot of pointless bloat from my manuscript.
 

Crowned in Fireflies

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I'm working on my second novel manuscript, and it's the first time I've really sought beta readers before. I'm new to the process, but most of my experiences so far have been positive. Most of them.

1) The first reader is someone I found on here, and while she only reads one chapter per week, she gives useful feedback that has made me more cognizant of issues with my writing that I should watch out for to grow as a writer. The last bit of feedback I got from her was over 2 weeks ago, and it was adding to some feelings of anxiety I was experiencing at the time from various sources, but she sent an email somewhat recently explaining that she's very busy with work, so I don't mind waiting at all because she informed me.

2) The second is also someone I found on here, but I don't know if I should even count her. We exchanged emails, she seemed cool, I sent my manuscript (March 20th), and I requested that she sends some preliminary feedback when she finishes the first few chapters. She disappeared for a long time, but turns out it's due to an emergency she had to deal with, which is understandable. She did say the emergency has since passed (March 29th), but I haven't heard from her since nor received any feedback at all. I'm not mad or anything, and I would actually be alright if she told me that she can't read my manuscript because she probably has way more important things to handle (I tried to offer her a clean, friendly out if she wanted), but the complete lack of response from her actually worries me. I hope she's alright.

3) The third beta reader is a friend I've made through online gaming years ago, and we've since grown close. She got really into the story and finished the last chapter last night, and we talked about it for a long while on PS4 party chat so she could share her thoughts/feelings/suggestions. Her feedback is useful, and I trust her because she would not lie to me despite our friendship. Her getting so into the story, and in one instance reading 10 chapters in one night and calling me on the phone right after to talk about it, helped dispel this anxiety I have about my writing.

4) The Fourth is someone I'm currently doing a beta swap with. Her manuscript is not the kind of thing I'd normally read, but I am enjoying it, and she is giving me useful feedback on mine with regards to characters, and some little mistakes that have so far gone unnoticed. She reads a chapter per day, and she gives me paragraphs of useful feedback whenever I ask questions. Also, she just seems cool, and I enjoy a lot of things about the way she writes.

5) There might have been this Fifth person, someone from here, but didn't work out. So, they ask me to send the first few thousand words to judge if they're interested. A couple days passed, I was having a minor panic regarding a registration/graduation issues, some other life shit like immigration issues, and at the time, only one reader was sending me anything, making me nervous that I'm about to get ghosted (beta reader #2 came to mind). I sent this Fifth individual an email saying that they should just tell me if they don't intend on reading so I can stop holding my breath and move on. The person replies and says beta readers have lives, and that my "attitude" is a good way to lose beta readers, which is fair (though never specifically said he/she wasn't going to read it).
I felt embarrassed, I thought about apologizing, but I didn't because I'm certain it would come off like a bunch of excuses, and I backed off for a few days to give them time before emailing again. More days later, I asked as non-pressury as I can for a time-frame of when I might receive feedback on the first two chapters I sent, and they said that they're just not going to read it because of my "attitude." I guess that's fine, and I do recognize that I shouldn't have let how I was feeling in the moment effect my communications, but seems like they should have made that clear with the previous email that they weren't going to read it. Anyway, I send an email stating that they should have been clear in the previous email about the fact that they aren't going to read it, I apologize for how I came off (I really wasn't trying to be demanding, I just wanted to know if they really did intend on reading it), and I say goodbye. Honestly, it kind of pisses me off if I think about it too much. I recognize that even if misconstrued, my words caused this, but It's probably a good thing that this person isn't reading my work because I'd have to worry that anything I say might make them drop me.
Like arguing with a Nazi in a YouTube comment section and letting them getting the last word, this will probably something I'll probably think about way too much despite wanting to just let it go. I bet they have this view of me as this entitled bully, and think that they're some righteous hero teaching me a lesson.

That came out way more ranty than I expected.
 

Cindyt

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My historical beta got me thinking about a better way to introduce my plot.

As a beta, I have read some really good novels. One was an awesome twist on a plot done and tried.
 

aryheron

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I had a beta who was the sweetest person ever. She made sure to point out when she didn’t like something because of her personal preferences and not because I had messed up, made random comments when she enjoyed certain quotes, told me where she had laughed, what scenes had worried her... She was the best. I’m hoping I get to work with her again.
 

mccardey

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Oh, but I read a lovely First Three Chapters today. It's right up there with my faves - you clever boy :)
 

Drascus

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I have beta read for two lovely people here on AW. One of them swapped MSs with me and read for me.

They were a joy to work with. Very professional in the way they took criticism and comments. Having my work read by a fellow author got me a wealth of useful information about my MS.

All three of us are in various levels of re-write now, I'm excited for the changes they're making to their books and excited for my changes (total ground up rewrite) as well!

Overall that's been a fantastic resource for me here on AW, I would recommend it to anyone.
 

holmes

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I found a beta reader on reddit who finished my novel in less than two days and provided some great feedback! I don't know how I stumbled upon such and amazing person, who also happens to own a bookshop, but I am so lucky I did! God bless beta readers!!!!