Monday, April 7, 2014

Five Things Your Beta Readers Should Know

I put my baby MS into the hands of Beta readers last week, and here is the letter that I sent them with the completed document!

Welcome Beta Readers!

First of all, THANK YOU so much for volunteering (?) to help me with this project.  Your love and support mean so much to me!  Here are a couple of things I wanted to share with you about being a Beta Reader:

1.        Please keep in mind that this my first attempt at a novel.  I am SO aware that it is not J.K.  Rowlings quality, and what I would HATE is if you were reading the thing thinking “Oh, that poor girl.  She thinks she is gonna get this piece of crap published.”  Ha!  Even though this is my first novel and hopefully not up to the same standard as things I will write later, I think it is important for me to go through the entire editing process, to make it the very best piece of crap that I can write, and to practice the whole procedure of submitting my work.  Practice makes less crappy crap.
2.       I NEED YOU.  I have read this thing so many times, my brain literally is fixing the mistakes as I read, so they are really hard to catch.  I also need a month away from this book so I can look at it with fresh eyes in May.
3.       So what is your job then?  Well first of all, you are not “line editors”.  You don’t need to read super slowly, checking and rechecking for spelling, punctuation, and grammar mistakes.  Is that a dangling participle???  That being said, if you do catch some of that when reading, please do comment.  But your number one job is to read like a reader- for fun, and to tell me what you like and don’t like about the book.  The MORE SPECIFIC THE COMMENTS THE BETTER.  For example, highlighting a sentence and saying “This sentence sucks,”  doesn't help me very much.  More helpful comments would include:
1.        This sentence is too choppy, or too long.
2.       I am confused, had to reread.
3.       Would this character really say that?
4.       Is this possible in 1933 (when the book takes place)
5.       I feel like she would be more freaked out by this.
6.       I am not feeling the love between these characters.
7.       You already talked about that earlier.
8.       Find a better description.
9.       This scene would have been better earlier or later in the book.
10.    I want  to know more about…
Obviously, these are just suggestions, and I would love to hear anything and everything you have to say, but please do not feel like you have to BLOW SMOKE UP MY BUTT.  If you tell me it’s the best book you have ever read based on the first page I am gonna pretty much disregard the rest of your comments.
4.        Shortcuts:  You can highlight words that are used too frequently.  Sometimes I use the same words over and over and it would be great to pick different words.

If a sentence would be better without a word or phrase, just comment “nix” for me to take it out.
5.        Google Docs- Probably should have started with this one, but if you don’t have a way to view Google Docs you are out of luck.  It would be crazy expensive to make hard copies for all of you, and I would have to sludge through all seven copies to see your comments when editing.  On google docs, your comments will all be together, and you will be able to see each others comments.  If you disagree with someone please do so respectfully.  So COMMITTED will be uploaded for your viewing pleasure by April 1, and I would like for you to be done reading and commenting by May 1.  It is a pretty short book comparatively speaking, so I think you should be able to do it.  I WILL NOT LOOK AT ANY OF THE COMMENTS UNTIL MAY 1, because, like I said, my brain needs a break, so don’t expect any kind of reply from me until after then.  You can always text me if you have a comment that you would like me to read immediately, like “OMGOMGOMGOMG!!!!”

Thanks again, and I hope you don’t think I am a dark and twisty sociopath after reading this.
Love, NIKI