Writing Forums

Writing Forums is a privately-owned, community managed writing environment. We provide an unlimited opportunity for writers and poets of all abilities, to share their work and communicate with other writers and creative artists. We offer an experience that is safe, welcoming and friendly, regardless of your level of participation, knowledge or skill. There are several opportunities for writers to exchange tips, engage in discussions about techniques, and grow in your craft. You can also participate in forum competitions that are exciting and helpful in building your skill level. There's so much more for you to explore!

Preparing Drafts for Editing and Beta Readers (1 Viewer)

Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
I have been struggling with various online services such as Onedrive and Google Docs for the purpose of sharing the manuscript. Most people have both, so I think either is acceptable. Word does a funny thing online where it doesn't show the whole page unless you put it in reading view and then you can't edit it. However, I like that you can set it to the navigation view and if you set the chapters as "Headings" then it provides the quick links like an ebook. Google docs. looks better, and I just discovered it also has an outline view with ready links to chapters. But it's fiddly. When I upload it the chapter headings are no longer at the top of the page. I have to adjust each one, but sometimes it jumps up and down...up and down...and I can't make it go to the right place...urrg! However, Google Docs allows you to restrict access to specific email addresses. I don't think Word has the same ability. I think I have been fiddling too long, so time to ask you guys:

What are your preferences for sharing your manuscript?

Is there anything else you do to make this process easy for others to make comments and edit?
 

Steve_Rivers

Senior Member
You'll probably hate my answer, Taylor, heh.

I share my manuscripts in Word doc file offline, over email, and use the track changes/comments boxes on that instead. That way, I only ever get one set of comments at a time back and it isn't half as fiddly or annoying. Because my experiences of Google docs, onedrive, word online etc, are much like yours. I much prefer my old, offline version of Word.

These days I only ever tend to put short stories or single chapters up on Google docs if I need specific feedback on something.

Darn it... give me another ten years and I'll regress further and start extolling the virtues of a typewriter! :D
 

Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
You'll probably hate my answer, Taylor, heh.

I share my manuscripts in Word doc file offline, over email, and use the track changes/comments boxes on that instead. That way, I only ever get one set of comments at a time back and it isn't half as fiddly or annoying. Because my experiences of Google docs, onedrive, word online etc, are much like yours. I much prefer my old, offline version of Word.

These days I only ever tend to put short stories or single chapters up on Google docs if I need specific feedback on something.

Darn it... give me another ten years and I'll regress further and start extolling the virtues of a typewriter! :D
Nice to know I'm not the only one who struggles with this stuff... lol!

To maintain separate comments you can set up multiple files, one for each reader. You can also put an expiry date for access. My only fear of email documents is that you now have an electronic copy out there that you have no control over. I'm not saying you can't trust the people you send it to, but accidents can happen, things can accidentally be forwarded. I have seen it happen even with highly confidential documents in a government tax department. Because I teach electronic document safety, I am likely being too paranoid. :)
 
Last edited:

Lawless

Senior Member
My only fear of email documents is that you now have an electronic copy out there that you have no control over.
I hate to scare you further, but documents on Google Docs can be downloaded and saved on a local computer even when the author has disabled it. Most people won't bother to find out how, of course.

It's unlikely you anger a beta reader so much they'd want to embarrass you by publishing an unfinished manuscript of yours, but you can't play it 100% safe. All else failing, a malicious and tenacious reader will still be able to take screenshots page by page.

If you put something like "unfinished manuscript for [name]; please do not distribute" on top of each page (can be done very easily in Word), surely every decent person will understand that it's not to be shown around.

Has anyone ever heard of a beta-reader abusing the author's trust anyway?
 

Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
I hate to scare you further, but documents on Google Docs can be downloaded and saved on a local computer even when the author has disabled it. Most people won't bother to find out how, of course.

It's unlikely you anger a beta reader so much they'd want to embarrass you by publishing an unfinished manuscript of yours, but you can't play it 100% safe. All else failing, a malicious and tenacious reader will still be able to take screenshots page by page.

If you put something like "unfinished manuscript for [name]; please do not distribute" on top of each page (can be done very easily in Word), surely every decent person will understand that it's not to be shown around.

Has anyone ever heard of a beta-reader abusing the author's trust anyway?
No, I haven't heard of any, but as I said, these things can happen inadvertently. Yes, nothing is 100% safe on the internet. I'm more interested in reasonable safeguards. But thanks for your response, that helps a lot! I'm really testing the temperature...just curious how others handle this.
 

VRanger

Staff member
Administrator
After I've finished a manuscript chapter by chapter in Scrivener and done my first read-through there, I publish it to a Word docx, take that to an RTF on into my proofreading app, export back out of there to RTF, then back into Word, for my last thorough read through.

Once you have reasonable draft, you go to the Copyright Office web site, and use THAT link. You don't Google the copyright office and fall for any of the advertiser links that take the same information and charge an extra $100 to register your manuscript.

And Oops, you're in Canada, so you should be at This Site, evidently, though you could file in the USA also.

Once your Copyright is complete, you're safe.

At that point I use Calibre to create both a Mobi and an ePub of the book, and that's what I send out to readers, at their preference. You will use the Word docx file to create the eBook on Amazon.
 

Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
After I've finished a manuscript chapter by chapter in Scrivener and done my first read-through there, I publish it to a Word docx, take that to an RTF on into my proofreading app, export back out of there to RTF, then back into Word, for my last thorough read through.

Once you have reasonable draft, you go to the Copyright Office web site, and use THAT link. You don't Google the copyright office and fall for any of the advertiser links that take the same information and charge an extra $100 to register your manuscript.

And Oops, you're in Canada, so you should be at This Site, evidently, though you could file in the USA also.

Once your Copyright is complete, you're safe.

At that point I use Calibre to create both a Mobi and an ePub of the book, and that's what I send out to readers, at their preference. You will use the Word docx file to create the eBook on Amazon.
Thanks for the great advice!

I like the idea of providing a proper ebook for the test market. Do you send the ePub to the initial beta readers? If yes, are they able to make comments?
 

VRanger

Staff member
Administrator
Thanks for the great advice!

I like the idea of providing a proper ebook for the test market. Do you send the ePub to the initial beta readers? If yes, are they able to make comments?
Mobi or ePub depends on what device or software they use for eBooks. Depending on what they use, they can insert notes if they want to. It doesn't insert them into the file.

I typically don't have many typos by that point. Occasionally I'll get back an email mentioning a couple, but mostly general comments. A dedicated reader who wants to make notes can go back through them and then put them in an email. If you WANT notes inserted in the copy, you probably want to send out docx or RTF.

However, I'm not doing beta reads. I'm sending them out to people who have decided they might enjoy the book and ask for it.
 

Llyralen

Senior Member
My hubby uses Scrivener to keep chapters organized and I think he converts or cuts/pastes each chapter into Word for his readers.

In a setting where I wanted group minds: I tried different people using different ink colors on Google Doc and so everyone could see each other's comments (which you may or may not want). Even though I kept a key on every document, I'd get confused about whose color was whose. I found the experience to not be as useful as I would have wanted it to be. I don't know how safe I feel with Google Docs for the slightest thing changing it. I just barely went through my Google Docs and deleted everything written by my old critique group from 2 years ago. I could have jumped on and changed their document from what I understand. Lately I've been going through to search for certain words in the WIP for a game on another forum (but it's also really good to help you learn what words you use too often) and I was really glad that I had my master on WORD because a few times I accidently changed the word in the Google Doc.

I now put my chapter into Word, email it, and ask people to Save As the title plus their name and write their comments into the work in red without changing what I've got. They can use a red strike out if wanted, and then send it back and delete off their computer.
 

VRanger

Staff member
Administrator
My hubby uses Scrivener to keep chapters organized and I think he converts or cuts/pastes each chapter into Word for his readers.

In a setting where I wanted group minds: I tried different people using different ink colors on Google Doc and so everyone could see each other's comments (which you may or may not want). Even though I kept a key on every document, I'd get confused about whose color was whose. I found the experience to not be as useful as I would have wanted it to be. I don't know how safe I feel with Google Docs for the slightest thing changing it. I just barely went through my Google Docs and deleted everything written by my old critique group from 2 years ago. I could have jumped on and changed their document from what I understand. Lately I've been going through to search for certain words in the WIP for a game on another forum (but it's also really good to help you learn what words you use too often) and I was really glad that I had my master on WORD because a few times I accidently changed the word in the Google Doc.

I now put my chapter into Word, email it, and ask people to Save As the title plus their name and write their comments into the work in red without changing what I've got. They can use a red strike out if wanted, and then send it back and delete off their computer.
As PiP and I were stumbling around Google Docs in our early stages of this collaboration, we thought we'd lost some stuff. Only later did I find the document versions under the File menu. It's virtually impossible to lose anything, and minor goofs to what should be a finished document can always be recovered by reverting to a previous version. Plus, deleted documents are always in Trash unless you explicitly empty Trash and verify their scary warning about it being GONE FOREVER! :)

The biggest issue I have between GD (which can also be a shortcut for a different phrase), and Scrivener, is so far I'm unable to retain markup between the two. So if I paste from one to the other, I have to scan the source and reproduce bold and italics in the destination.
 

Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
Mobi or ePub depends on what device or software they use for eBooks. Depending on what they use, they can insert notes if they want to. It doesn't insert them into the file.

I typically don't have many typos by that point. Occasionally I'll get back an email mentioning a couple, but mostly general comments. A dedicated reader who wants to make notes can go back through them and then put them in an email. If you WANT notes inserted in the copy, you probably want to send out docx or RTF.

However, I'm not doing beta reads. I'm sending them out to people who have decided they might enjoy the book and ask for it.
What is the purpose of converting the Word doc to RTF, and what platform do you use to share it?

Why do you send the book out to readers before you publish it if it's not for feedback?
 

VRanger

Staff member
Administrator
What is the purpose of converting the Word doc to RTF, and what platform do you use to share it?
Word docs are filled with an incredible amount of garbage markup. It was much simpler to program for RTF markup (in my proofreading app), which limits itself to only what's really needed.

I send files either through email or FB IMs.
Why do you send the book out to readers before you publish it if it's not for feedback?
I have a certain number of people who want to read one as soon as I've finished it. I get pestered from the moment they know I finished writing the story until I've got it ready for a second set of eyes (actually third, since Betty has also read it by then). If I was making any sort of a push at viral marketing, that would be like sending ARCs of a print book.

In the case of my Heinlein sequel, I CAN'T publish it, so a few dozen people have read it to give feedback. I don't need the feedback for myself, but since with one exception, the feedback has been beyond anything I would have expected, I'm piling it up to one day make a sales pitch to the rights holder (The Heinlein Prize Trust). One particular gentleman who is an enthusiastic fan of the book is helping me in that effort.

A few people have read the two books back-to-back (which I recommend if they haven't read 'Citizen of the Galaxy' in a while--my sequel picks up the story two weeks later), comment that it's like turning a page and they're still reading Citizen. This is NOT the type of response I was expecting (and every time I get an email like that I'm walking on air the rest of the day :) ), but I'm hoping those kinds of notices will make the Trust pay attention and at least consider publication of the sequel. Several of the responses are from Board Members of the Heinlein Society ... it's too bad the Society isn't the rights holder ... I'd have permission already. LOL So ANYONE who wants to read the sequel is always welcome to an eBook file, with proviso they have to let me know what they think of it, and I have their permission to quote them.

If I referred to that thread about 'what gave you confidence in your writing?' ... when one reader after another started comparing my writing favorably to Heinlein, it was certainly a confidence builder.
 

Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
Once you have reasonable draft, you go to the Copyright Office web site, and use THAT link. You don't Google the copyright office and fall for any of the advertiser links that take the same information and charge an extra $100 to register your manuscript.

And Oops, you're in Canada, so you should be at This Site, evidently, though you could file in the USA also.

Once your Copyright is complete, you're safe.
I went to register in Canada with the CIPO office today and was surprised that they don't keep a copy of the work itself. So you register the title of the book and the author and that is all. They say they can give you a certificate for a legal proceeding if needed, but the onus of proof is still on the copyright holder. I will still do it, but how does this really help if they have no record of the actual work?

However, it appears that the US copyright office requires a copy. That makes more sense.

Do you think I should file copyright in US and Canada?

EDIT: I just found this on Google:

Many Canadians also register their works with the U.S. Copyright Office because they can submit a copy of the work, which can act as evidence in a copyright infringement suit. The Canadian registration system consists of an application only.
 
Last edited:

VRanger

Staff member
Administrator
Many Canadians also register their works with the U.S. Copyright Office because they can submit a copy of the work, which can act as evidence in a copyright infringement suit. The Canadian registration system consists of an application only.
I think I'd have recommended registering both places anyway. If you did have to start an action in the US, you'd have a stronger case with the US Copyright. It's about moot. The odds of you being plagiarized are quite low, but the fee to register is also quite low.
 

Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
I think I'd have recommended registering both places anyway. If you did have to start an action in the US, you'd have a stronger case with the US Copyright. It's about moot. The odds of you being plagiarized are quite low, but the fee to register is also quite low.
Agree! I'm just looking for reasonable safeguards....because that's just who I am...lol!
 

indianroads

Staff member
Global Moderator
This speaks to my belief that you should use someone you know who has experience as an editor in your genre - or a pro ($$$).
I'm fortunate in that the lady I use worked in the publishing business for years, and her daughter and my youngest girl were friends. She's retired and I trust her.
You can look for editors at various on line writing sites - look for one that allows reviews from customers, and find one that's been around a while.

What kind of editing are you looking for? With your background, your grammar is probably perfect, are you looking for someone to spot plot holes, give general feedback (etc)?

Once you find someone that feels right, then you can work together on what format that person prefers.
 

Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
This speaks to my belief that you should use someone you know who has experience as an editor in your genre - or a pro ($$$).
I'm fortunate in that the lady I use worked in the publishing business for years, and her daughter and my youngest girl were friends. She's retired and I trust her.
You can look for editors at various on line writing sites - look for one that allows reviews from customers, and find one that's been around a while.
I might have a hard time finding one with experience in my genre. It's a bit of a crossover, and I'm already having difficulty finding comps. I am 100% in agreement with using professionals wherever possible. When you say one that allows reviews from customers, what exactly do you mean?
What kind of editing are you looking for? With your background, your grammar is probably perfect, are you looking for someone to spot plot holes, give general feedback (etc)?
Right now just having people read it for its general merit. Did you enjoy it? Was anything confusing? What did you like/dislike about it? How does it stack up against other novels you read?
Once you find someone that feels right, then you can work together on what format that person prefers.
Good idea!
 

Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
Thought I should give you folks an update. I registered the manuscript as an unfinished work at the Copywrite office, for peace of mind. The registration can be updated as many times as one needs until it's finished and registered as published.

Next, I set up online individual files in Google Docs labeled by readers' names, gave them exclusive access, made them a "commenter," and limited their permissions...again, just for peace of mind.

The beauty of this system is that as they comment, I can see where they're at in the manuscript. This eliminates the need for me to check in to see how it's going because I'm getting instantaneous feedback, as their comments generate emails to me.

Yesterday, I started a new reader in the morning, and I could see they started reading it after dinner. They completed ten chapters in one sitting. That in itself was rewarding and promising! One of the comments was that they found the story interesting so far, and loved the characters, as they are not shallow and have distinct personalities. Yay!!! 🤓
 
Last edited:

Ralph Rotten

Staff member
Media Manager
As PiP and I were stumbling around Google Docs in our early stages of this collaboration, we thought we'd lost some stuff. Only later did I find the document versions under the File menu. It's virtually impossible to lose anything, and minor goofs to what should be a finished document can always be recovered by reverting to a previous version. Plus, deleted documents are always in Trash unless you explicitly empty Trash and verify their scary warning about it being GONE FOREVER! :)

The biggest issue I have between GD (which can also be a shortcut for a different phrase), and Scrivener, is so far I'm unable to retain markup between the two. So if I paste from one to the other, I have to scan the source and reproduce bold and italics in the destination.
That feature is known as Versioning. It will allow you to go back to any saved point in the document's history. Dropbox also has this feature. Only had to use it once.
 

Ralph Rotten

Staff member
Media Manager
The format you use for your beta readers doesn't really matter as long as it has a clean appearance. Hell, you could just convert the thing to a pdf if you don't want the content jiggling about. I believe you can allow a markup mode in acrobat--so they can write on it.

You can also send them a printed copy...just order an author/manuscript copy via Amazon and have it shipped to their door. Often when I edit, I use a manuscript where I have modified the internal margins to the point that there is a big wide band all the way around the page. This extra space is scratch paper...a place for the editor or beta to write copius notes. Then when you are done editing, you return the margins to where they should be and now the content fits the page properly. Beats the hell outta trying to scribble notes into a tiny margin. Also, some people just prefer a printed copy.
 
Top