Good article on the use of BETA READERS!

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  1. #1

    Lightbulb Good article on the use of BETA READERS!

    Here’s a good article on Beta Readers... 🤓
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  2. #2
    Interesting article, but most of the cons against using beta readers sounded to me like those writers were simply clueless about how to use beta readers.
    There is an art to accepting feedback. Most writers start arguing with the beta in the middle of their review, then the feedback essentially ends.

    When a beta is telling you about the book:
    1) STFU. Listen, let them tell you everything, take it in, take notes, but DO NOT interrupt until they are done (or you will stunt the feedback process.)
    2) Then you can ask them specific questions like;
    a) what did you like most about the story?
    b) Were there any areas of confusion, or just bad parts?
    c) Which character was your fav.
    d) Was there anything unbelievable about the story?

    Then there is interpreting the feedback.
    Reader suggests a new ending: This means the ending you have is lame, and they thought they could do better.
    Reader gets characters names wrong: You need to work on character development, and maybe tag your characters with a physical attribute (or less common name than John)
    Reader is your Mom: Disregard all feedback. Mom was amazed by the fecal finger-paintings you did on the bathroom wall when you were little.
    Readers did not grasp central themes: If more than 1 beta tells you this then you need to work on it.


  3. #3
    Wɾ¡ʇ¡∩9 bdcharles's Avatar
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    I'm in the midst of a beta process now. I've been either really lucky or particularly discerning in that my 2 most recent betas were just the right amount of positive to critical. And to me positivity is important. It's tiresome if all you have to go on are negatives. I lose faith in my beta if that's all I have, and the whole thing turns into a waste of time. I want to see a few things they like too. Otherwise, while I could assume that the tracts of comment-free pages means they liked it, it's a blank, it's a guess, and guesses are no good for me.

    One potential issue that has occurred to me is reciprocal beta-reading. I am going to try and avoid it in future (easier said than done). It's tempting because it offers up a guarantee ("you read my book and I'll read yours, stop and I'll stop too") but then I worry that my feedback influences theirs and vice versa. If I post something complimentary they may skip over an issue in mine for fear of disrupting the relationship that seems to bloom on the back of mutual reading. Or if they cut into my work I may feel like cutting hard into theirs. In an ideal world we'd all keep it professional and impartial but that rarely happens. In that regard my 2 betas were good because they did still give me grief when stuff didn't add up, as did I theirs, but with one, for a moment it did get fractious as I wasn't seeing much constructive from her side. I had to rein myself in, take a break etc, and we worked through it to a happy conclusion, but one never knows. Food for thought anyway.

    I also have a policy of offering to read the first three chapters initially. That's the large side of the standard query package so it's useful for them in that regard and generally I can tell if there are any grammar or style issues by then. If they are, I send it back. It's not ready, and I can't - and don't feel I should have to - go through an entire MS's worth of unpolished text. If there aren't too many, I carry on.

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  4. #4
    Actually if you exchange beta reading it would work the other way: If they gave you a good review, you'd feel obligated to give them a good review in return.
    But they need an honest review more than a good one.

    PS: When they don't fill in any of the boxes on the survey it means that you did not wow them. Ergo, it was either bad, or just meh.

  5. #5
    I do reciprocal betaing almost exclusively. And not much of that. I don't honestly do a lot of betaing as I tend to outrun the readers.
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