Saturday, October 17, 2009

Beta Readers

I'm always interested in what people do with their beta readers. Having just gone through the process again with mine, I'm looking to see what you do with yours.

(I had to think exactly how I'd phase all this for the blog post).

I have three that I'd trust with my book (not including one MG reader that is just fantastic. She - and my husband - are termed my 'end readers', which are different.) and see it before anyone else, including agent. Of the three I expect different things, however, and mostly receive them.

One is fantastic for the big picture, the theme, and the motivations. She is harsh, and critical, and I love it. One is excellent for her (isn't it funny, hubs is my only male reader. hm...) on target "this doesn't make sense" bits, and is also unrelenting. The last is perfect for her eagle eye and knowledge of grammar, since mine goes the longer I stay here. My crit group is also great, but they've been excessively busy lately and haven't been able to do much with PoloGRRL.

So going into it, I expect and receive different things from each beta reader. It took me some time to know what to get from each, and I also critique their MS in return. It's a healthy, happy whole which ends up making my books very strong and powerful, as they're all at the same level as I am right now.

Fantastic.

And you? How many betas do you have? What do you use them for, or do you get different things from each as well?

7 comments:

  1. I'm in two crit groups and have read several completed manuscripts for them but have yet to give any of them my entire book. I also have two other writers who would read it, if asked. But I'm curious how you found your betas. Would you mind sharing that process?

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  2. I wish I had time to Beta read. D:
    hinthint.

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  3. I have a set of readers from my local gym. They are fairly avid readers but don't provide much in terms of critique for grammar, etc.

    I had one reader that struggled through part of one of my books, so I had to speed it up, but other than that I don't get much comments.

    I think it would be extremely difficult for me to find a critique group, mainly because of the genre that I write in.

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  4. Pretty much only my crit. group reads my work. They each have different talents, as do your beta readers. I know one of them will tell me if dialog is not right, one will notice if I've gotten too removed from what the character is experiencing emotionally, and another will catch any problems with the characters' physical movement within the space. (How did she tap him on the shoulder? Didn't you just say she crossed the room to get a book?)

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  5. I belong to a writers' guild and some meetings are devoted to critiquing. Unfortunately, for all to participate means the readings must be very brief, so novels are excluded. Exchanging chapters to take home and critique can be helpful but I still depend on beta readers for more in depth reactions. Two are family members, one of which is also a writer so feedback is from both a general reader's perspective and a more critical writer's. What I lack, however, is an unbiased non-family reader who won't hesitate to say what doesn't work, and I haven't found that yet.

    Carol Garvin

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  6. Oh, good questions!

    I've had a difficult time deciding who I'd like to use over and over as beta readers. I'm still trying to figure it out really. I've had a lot of people read my book, and it's been difficult to go through all the feedback, develop relationships, see what works, who doesn't, etc. And it has to go both ways. I don't like to just take and not give anything back, so I like to trade a lot of the time.

    Right now I have a handful of betas are working out beautifully. I hope it keeps on a great path for all of us!

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  7. I am involved in two crit groups and each give me input and insight chapter-by-chapter. My beta reader never sees the work until I think I've made the final revision :-D She reads it through and tells me what's what. Because she has never read any part of the ms and I have not discussed any of it with her, she has no expectation of storyline or plot accept what she gets from the manuscript.

    Her cold read is extremely valuable.

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