Beta Reader: Enquire Within

Now (and always) seeking Beta Readers.

About the position:

The Beta Reader reads a late draft of a manuscript, and provides specific, actionable feedback to the author of the piece.  This draft is not always the final, polished version of a manuscript, nor is it always intended to be.

Worthwhile, interesting and useful responses will result in you being asked to return as a Beta Reader for this author.  A reply of “I like it! Can I read more of your stuff?” will not result in return gigs, unless the author is wallowing in self-doubt and just needs a fan.

Responsibilities:

  • Clarify any questions about your role in this stage of the draft
  • Read the story and provide feedback as quickly as possible (there is often a deadline included)
  • Ask questions about anything that confuses you about the story as you read it – including but not limited to clunky sentences, unfinished thoughts, plot holes, character inconsistencies or inconsistencies of time or place.
  • Provide timely and complete comments in the format the author has requested
  • Understand that the author sometimes has reasons for certain things (even if you don’t understand them), and might not take every bit of your advice.
  • Honest feedback.
  • Focus on providing constructive criticism (Just as “I like it!” is useless, “This is dumb” is equally useless to the Author.)

Qualifications:

  • Read avidly in the genre the author writes, preferably have read other things by the author – particularly if character continuity between books is a concern
  • Ability to follow directions. Often in the email accompanying the draft, the author will add notes about where the narrative is in terms of production. “I need help with character continuity” is asking for a specific kind of attention. copy editing early drafts is usually a waste of time for both Reader and Author. This role is called Reader, not Editor. (please see “responsibilities” section about clarifying your role.)
  • Ability to see the story as malleable.  Often, extraneous, unimportant characters can be combined or eliminated. Sometimes, entire scenes are useless, or better off moved to another section. Big-picture edits like this help the flow and pacing of works. If you’re reading an early or mid-stage draft, these are important ideas to call to the author’s attention.

Compensation and benefits:

Good beta readers are necessary for a good book.

  • You get to pre-read stories for free!
  • Sneak peek into the creative process
  • Possible mention in the acknowledgements
  • Signed copies are negotiable

Please do not request cameo appearances. These do not work out well. Cameo-sized characters tend to get cut, combined or morphed.  Or, if your character has more of a role than a bit part, it’s likely that the character will have to have an actual personality. This suddenly becomes a question of flattery or insult, rather than mere acknowledgement of gratitude.

(This post is the result of a twisty-turny twitter conversation with Melanie over at Becoming Author.)

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9 thoughts on “Beta Reader: Enquire Within

  1. I’m certainly interested in coming aboard as a beta reader. It’s always an enjoyment to look at the work of someone else before it hits the market to see the transition from one phase to another.

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