Monday, March 22, 2010

Beta Readers

I have been hearing and reading a lot about beta readers lately. You need them, use them, they are helpful. Great. How do find them?

Do you use beta readers? Are they people you know?

Here's my vision of a beta reader: I send my story in a neat little package to someone that I have never seen or talked to. They read it and write down things they like and things they don't like. They send it back to me in the same neat little package. I never have to see them or talk to them.

Now, of course this probably isn't how it really works, but I am slightly shy (no laughing from the people who know me) and would be incredibly embarrassed to see the person, don't ask why!

And, naturally, my mother and my sister think "it's so good. I can't believe anyone would not like this".

My husband's friends, who have just discovered that I write have asked me to send it to them and they would give me their honest opinion. WAY too humiliating for me. First of all, it's totally a chick book and second of all, what if they think it's horrible and laugh? And what it they do tell me the truth, that they hate it? Nope can't do it.

So who do use? Where do you find these people? I don't want a critique, I want a random person who likes my genre to read it and tell me yay or nay. That's it!


  1. Yup - been there. I did find a couple of buddies over at AQ from one of the critique groups. We don't beta read exactly - I think beta reading is when the other person reads the entire books at once. Is it? But we do crit each others' work all the time.

    I was terrified the first time - still get nervous :) But they're fabulous - honest and oh, so helpful. I love them.

    I do like your random person idea - I think that's what happens when we send out to agents though :)

  2. I hear ya' Shawna. I don't know that I would want to see that "your story really sucked" look on their face. Things would never be the same again. I don't have beta readers but would love to get some. Psssttt, mysterious reading strangers, where are you?

  3. Jemi- I do have 2 very wonderful gals from AQ that I consider critique partners, and yes we may not be overly critical of each other, we are very good at praising each other ;) And what I really would like, like you said, just to have someone read it through, maybe not a writer since I know they would be critiqueing in their head :) maybe a teen or seomone who reads YA alot and tell me what they think.

    My other problem with AQ, and don't get me wrong, I love that site, but so far I have had someone steal my MC's name and had someone use a title that was mysteriously close to mine, so I have now become very leary about posting anything there, even though I have received really great feedback before.

    Lisa-I am with you, can I send out a call "calling all non-writers who want to read a YA paranormal romance" are they beating down my door yet?

  4. I LOVE your new blog look! So cute! You've done a great job. :)

  5. Shawna,

    Cute new look to ditto TK. It's adorable.

    Real life crit partners are hard to find. I have handed my mss off to people I know love to read, but don't love me enough to lie to me. I have gotten good feedback from them.

    Donna Jo Napoli, acclaimed author of juvenile lit, literally hands her manuscripts off to kids she finds at the mall. She offers them a box of chocolate in return for them to read her WIP. She tells them very explicitly that the minute they don't want to keep reading, they should stop. Her only requirement is that they tell her exactly where they were in the manuscript when they quit. In this way, she pinpoints trouble areas.

    Does this help?

    I would beta read, if that helps. And I promise I won't steal a thing. I have so many ideas they fall out my ears as I walk. If I don't watch it, I might get fined for littering...

  6. Ah thanks guys! I spent several hours testing out blog backgrounds! GRRRR! What a pain, I'm feeling your right now Jemi!

    Wow, Cat! You are AWESOME! Thank you so much for that offer! I have Charlie and Lisa as crit partners, we swap chapters, and give each other the ol' "Like this part, not so much this part" and "I don't think there's a comma here" but would love to just have someone read from start to finish with no line edits. Such a good idea to find random people at the mall, wish I was that daring! HAHA thank you for not stealing my ideas! I think we write in different genres anyhow and besides I just think you're great so it sounds good to me :) I'm in the middle of a rewrite, but when I get all the way through (Gosh only knows when that will be) I would love to contact you and see if you're still interested. Thank you so much!

  7. Just let me know when you're ready.