• Read this stickie before posting.

    • In order to reduce the number of new members requesting a Beta reader before they're really ready for one, we've instituted a 50 post requirement before you can start a thread seeking a Beta reader.
    • You can still volunteer to Beta for someone else; just please don't request someone to Beta for you until you're more familiar with the community and our members.

Looking for an Alpha/Beta Reader - Contemporary Fiction 69k

cat_named_easter

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Hi folks! After several years I've finally reached a stage with my latest novel where it feels ready to be seen by another human!
'The Knots We Tie' (tentative title) is contemporary/women's fiction with a hint of mystery. Thirty-something Marianne has moved back home with her retired parents, telling them she's been made redundant. This isn't true. While unpacking her bags in her old childhood bedroom, she discovers a hidden Valentine's card addressed to her mum. Inside is a romantic message and an old photograph, signed from Malcolm. Her dad's name is Dennis. (This isn't an official blurb/query - I just typed it now right now, so please don't come for me :ROFLMAO:). The novel is 69k, set in present-day Central Scotland and contains swearing.
I'd love some constructive feedback on the book and would consider a beta swap (currently working on a project for another author so might be a few weeks until I can begin). My preferred genres are speculative, Young Adult, contemporary/literary fiction, mystery, magic realism, LGBTQ+. Also happy to trial an opening chapter/opening three-chapter swap first.
Thanks!
 
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Kuledoode

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Hi,
I am very new to writing. I have to admit that I don't read much! But I have completed the first decent draft of a CF novel and need to work on being constructively critical. If you're interested in having the inexperienced opinion of a newbie I'm your guy.
 

Unimportant

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Hey, y'all, as an old-time older-than-old oldie, can I offer a word of advice?

Beta reading is a huge commitment. And a huge responsibility. It can be a wonderful, terrific experience, but it can also go pear-shaped.

What if you volunteer to beta read for me and two chapters in you find that you hate, despise, loathe my main character? What if my voice grates on you to the point you want to hurl the book at the wall? What if my writing iz sew filt wif tiepoes and bad grammars and ridiclus Az U No, Bob dialogges that it will take you ten hours per page to catch them all? What if you spend forty hours meticulously commenting on my book and typing up fifty pages of notes, and I read yours in half an hour and my reponse to you consists of "It was okay I guess but I didn't like it"? What if you get back to me in a week and I say, "Yeah, I'll get to yours, but it probably won't be till 2024"?

So my advice is to dip your toes in before you leap. Whether it's beta reading pro bono, or a quid pro quo beta swap, both people need to know what they're getting into, and both people need to know if they can do it. Post the first few hundred words in Share Your Work and see which critiquers give you the most useful feedback. Critique stories in Share Your Work and figure out what kind of stories you like vs what kind of stories you just plain can't be of any help with. If you're beta-ing off line, start with a page. Or a scene. Or a chapter. Set expectations. Set timelines.

It's like Tinder: go for coffee in a public place. Then go for a date to the movies. Don't move in together the day you meet.

Good luck to all of you!
 

Gramps

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Hey, y'all, as an old-time older-than-old oldie, can I offer a word of advice?

Beta reading is a huge commitment. And a huge responsibility. It can be a wonderful, terrific experience, but it can also go pear-shaped.

What if you volunteer to beta read for me and two chapters in you find that you hate, despise, loathe my main character? What if my voice grates on you to the point you want to hurl the book at the wall? What if my writing iz sew filt wif tiepoes and bad grammars and ridiclus Az U No, Bob dialogges that it will take you ten hours per page to catch them all? What if you spend forty hours meticulously commenting on my book and typing up fifty pages of notes, and I read yours in half an hour and my reponse to you consists of "It was okay I guess but I didn't like it"? What if you get back to me in a week and I say, "Yeah, I'll get to yours, but it probably won't be till 2024"?

So my advice is to dip your toes in before you leap. Whether it's beta reading pro bono, or a quid pro quo beta swap, both people need to know what they're getting into, and both people need to know if they can do it. Post the first few hundred words in Share Your Work and see which critiquers give you the most useful feedback. Critique stories in Share Your Work and figure out what kind of stories you like vs what kind of stories you just plain can't be of any help with. If you're beta-ing off line, start with a page. Or a scene. Or a chapter. Set expectations. Set timelines.

It's like Tinder: go for coffee in a public place. Then go for a date to the movies. Don't move in together the day you meet.

Good luck to all of you!
Hey, y'all, as an old-time older-than-old oldie, can I offer a word of advice?

Beta reading is a huge commitment. And a huge responsibility. It can be a wonderful, terrific experience, but it can also go pear-shaped.

What if you volunteer to beta read for me and two chapters in you find that you hate, despise, loathe my main character? What if my voice grates on you to the point you want to hurl the book at the wall? What if my writing iz sew filt wif tiepoes and bad grammars and ridiclus Az U No, Bob dialogges that it will take you ten hours per page to catch them all? What if you spend forty hours meticulously commenting on my book and typing up fifty pages of notes, and I read yours in half an hour and my reponse to you consists of "It was okay I guess but I didn't like it"? What if you get back to me in a week and I say, "Yeah, I'll get to yours, but it probably won't be till 2024"?

So my advice is to dip your toes in before you leap. Whether it's beta reading pro bono, or a quid pro quo beta swap, both people need to know what they're getting into, and both people need to know if they can do it. Post the first few hundred words in Share Your Work and see which critiquers give you the most useful feedback. Critique stories in Share Your Work and figure out what kind of stories you like vs what kind of stories you just plain can't be of any help with. If you're beta-ing off line, start with a page. Or a scene. Or a chapter. Set expectations. Set timelines.

It's like Tinder: go for coffee in a public place. Then go for a date to the movies. Don't move in together the day you meet.

Good luck to all of you!
Wow! You combined all your best writing techniques into a single paragraph. I’m in awe of your expertise. ;)
 

Jazz Club

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What if you volunteer to beta read for me and two chapters in you find that you hate, despise, loathe my main character? What if my voice grates on you to the point you want to hurl the book at the wall? What if my writing iz sew filt wif tiepoes and bad grammars and ridiclus Az U No, Bob dialogges that it will take you ten hours per page to catch them all? What if you spend forty hours meticulously commenting on my book and typing up fifty pages of notes, and I read yours in half an hour and my reponse to you consists of "It was okay I guess but I didn't like it"? What if you get back to me in a week and I say, "Yeah, I'll get to yours, but it probably won't be till 2024"?
And what if you do all the work for the other person and get ghosted entirely 😖😖
 

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Adding: But feel free to stretch your horizons. I did that, accidentally. I volunteered to beta read because I thought I knew what the subgenre was. (That word means this to me, and this other word means this to me, so that term must mean this.) Oh, boy, was I ever wrong! Like, as wrong as a wrong thing on a wrong day, only wronger. Even crazier, I decided to use my time babysitting research rats (long, long story) by reading the person's story aloud to them as I watched their behaviour because birds, stones, kill two, etc.

Well, gosh. The rats were unimpressed :D But I learnt a hell of a lot about stuff I'd never thought I'd want to learn about. More importantly, I totally fell in love with the main character, to the point that I came back to the author and said "This is not at all what I'd normally read but please can I have the next three books?".

(Taps fingers against desk impatiently, waiting for that fourth book. Why, yes, @Maryn, I AM looking at you....)
 

Jazz Club

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I'd better add to all the dark warnings that I've swapped work with probably at least 30 people (I haven't been counting) and I've only been ghosted once. Also, I've always been happy to keep reading the whole novel once I started. But then I'm not picky about genre and I'm interested in nearly anything as long as it isn't hard science I just can't follow. If you're more picky about genre this approach mightn't work for you.
 
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gjordan

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The thing about beta reading is that it's not editing. If I start reading someone's work and it's illegible or not the book for me, I'm not committed to reading the whole thing. I'd tell the writer where I stopped and why. Sometimes it's as simple as "Hey, I didn't realize this was going to be about cannibal alien strippers from space. I'm not really into that genre," or "Hey, I think your premise sounds really interesting, and I'd like to read your story after it's been edited."
 

Unimportant

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The thing about beta reading is that it's not editing.
It can be. Each beta reader is different. Each author's needs are different.

Sometimes I read and just give general reactions. Sometimes I copyedit, looking solely for SPaG errors. Sometimes I line-edit. Sometimes, though it's not my strength, I do a structural edit.

It's why I keep harping on about "know what you're going to read BEFORE you commit to reading it" and "know what kind of feedback this person will give you BEFORE you accept them as a beta reader".
If I start reading someone's work and it's illegible or not the book for me, I'm not committed to reading the whole thing.
As long as the writer knows that up front, that's fine. But if two people commit to each other's entire novels, it's kinda uncool to not deliver on the promise.
 
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Unimportant

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@cat_named_easter are you still interested in a beta swap? I have a similar length MS - it's a fiction thriller. Please email me and we can discuss more.
Welcome to Absolute Write, sjchris408.

It would appear that you missed reading some really important information in the Newbie Guide. I'll post it here for you:

In order to decrease the number of people who join AW and immediately post here looking for a Beta reader, we require members to have 50 substantive posts before they can start a thread requesting a Beta.
Use those first 50 posts to introduce yourself in the New Members forum, to greet new members and help them find their way around AW, to volunteer to Beta for someone else, to crit some in Share Your Work, and to talk about writing.
That should give you time to read the stickies in the Beta forum and Share Your Work, and to have an idea about what it is Beta readers do and what to expect and request.
If you post in someone else's Beta reader request thread seeking your own Beta reader, I will remove the post, and possibly, you.

Make sure you have read The Newbie Guide to Absolute Write.

By asking established members for beta swaps when you've not yet established yourself with 50 posts, you're ignoring one of AW's very few but very important rules. I advise you to delete that request in the two posts you've made so far and, instead, go over to the New Members section and introduce yourself properly.
 

Maryn

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sjchris408 has been most cooperative. I hesitate to tell new people that I cannot get my main private email to block all the bull semen emails. It was my own fault, posting that email in a public place. I was so naive about the internet in those days.

Maryn, not into bulls
 

gjordan

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It can be. Each beta reader is different. Each author's needs are different.

Sometimes I read and just give general reactions. Sometimes I copyedit, looking solely for SPaG errors. Sometimes I line-edit. Sometimes, though it's not my strength, I do a structural edit.

It's why I keep harping on about "know what you're going to read BEFORE you commit to reading it" and "know what kind of feedback this person will give you BEFORE you accept them as a beta reader".

As long as the writer knows that up front, that's fine. But if two people commit to each other's entire novels, it's kinda uncool to not deliver on the promise.
There's definitely a difference between alpha readers, beta readers, critique partners, and editors. I think it's important to be clear what you're looking for.

https://papertrue.medium.com/beta-reader-vs-editor-whats-the-difference-72499db461c9
https://blog.reedsy.com/beta-reader...omeone,, inconsistencies, or unclear passages.

"But if two people commit to each other's entire novels, it's kinda uncool to not deliver on the promise."

I agree, which is why I don't offer manuscript swaps for this reason. When I beta read, I don't like to throw my manuscript in the ring.
 

Undercover

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I'm officially done with beta'ing. I've done it for a long enough time, years and years, to know, not to have a full beta anymore. I've learned a lot. Don't get me wrong, I think it's needed in a writer's career at some point. But I don't think it's always needed for every book. I didn't have a beta for my first 5 books. And ironically, they are all published. 4 and 5 are my good ones. No beta for any of them. Then I started getting betas because everyone in writing town was talking about it like umpteen years ago, like it's the thing to do, that would help you get an agent and or publisher.

So I started getting betas for my books and it's never been the same since. Haven't been able to get an agent in 12 years. 6 years was my last book contract. Haven't connected on an agent or publisher since. See the pattern? Beta'ing changes your story, for better or worse, it's uncertain. You have extra voices moving your story around like, this is what THEY would do to it, giving you suggestions. Granted. You learn from a lot of different betas, because no one is the same. Some are great, and some are, well, you get it.

I've learned, time and time again, listen to the strongest voice within YOU, no one else. Keep your work pure of other voices combating that precious idea you have. Be strong and brave and confident of your storytelling voice. And oh, man, will it stand out. You have to eventually believe in yourself and your work and stand by it 100% authentically yours.

I do believe that the query, first chapter most definitely, up to the first 3 chapters MAX should be critiqued (a MUST). Then carry what you've learned and push that through the rest of the book.

I do recommend experiencing full betas for a while, but never rely on it, especially for every single book. Believe in yourself, that you, and you alone, can do it. You just might have better results. Just my thoughts, take or toss. But this was my experience.
 
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Wow this was thread was like a super bonus surprise box, I got so much more out of it that I though I would. I came here just to 'give back' since my fellow Erotica Forum members have been so generous with their time helping me edit one of my short stories, and I ended up with great advice from Unimportant and Gramps, and a nice motivational speech from Undercover. :)

Cat, I'll be happy to Beta for you if you still need readers. Sent you a pm.
 
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