Posts Tagged With: How to get Beta Readers

Care and Feeding of Your Beta Readers

I now have seven Beta Readers.  Lest you think, well, that’s not very many early readers, I remind you that I will be receiving feedback  from seven different sources, all of whom may mark up the manuscript.  That means pouring over  seven new versions of my book.  Seven is great, I’m not shooting for overwhelm, I’m shooting for concrete opportunities for improvement.

I did not just fire off the manuscript to the volunteer reader, I also included what I needed and what kind of feedback I was searching for.

Bunker in Albania

This bunker in Albania inspired the bunkers in the book, Future Girl

Dear Beta Reader  (or insert their actual name here, I promised to keep their anonymous in case the book was terrible and they wanted to avoid any association with it in order to protect their academic reputation.)

Thank you so very much for volunteering to be a beta reader for my book.

You are welcome to mark up the document and return it, or simply send me a few notes. (I wanted to give them a choice depending on how they approached a paper or manuscript, some of the volunteers are accustom to line editing and I welcome that feedback, but others may just want to make a list and send it off, that is welcome as well.)

Of course, what I need is feedback to improve the book, but I do ask that before completely ravishing the prose, do offer some initial encouragement, even if you only liked the font and found the margins pleasing. (Seriously, some people do not know how to give constructive feedback, help them.  I do not want to open seven emails  and be immediately assaulted by lists of   negative comments, so I am working to protect my sometimes fragile ego ahead of time).

Please send feedback by July 19, 2013 (Give your readers a date, people work better on a deadline, it gives the project a finish time, and I will not be waiting on anyone in order to move forward with the fourth drat of the book)

Some questions  to inspire your feedback:

  • Is the heroine, Charity, believable?
  • Do you care about her journey? (Remember this has been written, more or less for a YA audience)
  • How is the future?  Did you discover inconsistencies in the invented world?
  • Does the narrative (Charity’s adventure)  make sense?
  • Does the motivation of all the characters made sense?
  • Did you like it?
  • Where should it go –  YA boutique publisher, general  ebook,  Sci-Fi POD, Boutique Science Fiction publisher?
  • Who would you give this to?  (Helps me figure out the audience)
  • What was the underlying theme?
  • Do you have an idea for a better title?

Thank you for your help!  This is the first time I’ve reached out to Beta Readers and of course you will be acknowledged and publicly appreciated.  Or if the book is horrible, I am equally happy to leave you out of it.

I reserve to use your comments on the show – Newbie Writer’s Podcast,  but won’t use your name. (I produce a weekly podcast, of course we’ll discuss this process.  If the feedback is particularly trenchant, I’ll interview the Beta Reader on the show, again, I have no wish to surprise people who are helping me).

I scheduled  the  beta reading  project to take place while I was away on a trip.  That helped prevent me from fussing and emailing my friends and family  with “have you read it?  How about now?  How about NOW?”  A distracted author means a happy reader.

Give it a try.  Some authors have enormous followings and can solicit hundreds of readers for their upcoming books, some, like me, have a few readers.  Either way, it’s worth the feedback, and will create  some early buzz for the book.

Ironically, your Beta Readers will  be some of your first customers, they will not only buy the finished product, they will be some of your best fans.

Remember that your Beta Readers are helping you out of love and/or loyalty, so remember to thank them.  A lot.  That’s what your acknowledgement page is for.  And lucky you if your book ends up with a two page acknowledgement list!

Let me know when you try this and the results.  I’ll discuss my own results when they come in.

You are welcome to re-post this article in your own blog or newsletter – please include this entire statement, “Catharine Bramkamp is a Writing Coach and podcaster, find out if you’re ready to go from  Newbie to Known visit http://www.yourbookstartshere.com or bramkamp@yahoo.com for a complimentary consultation.”

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Categories: Newbie Guide Notes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

How to Fish for Beta Readers

I don’t belong to a writing group, so when I “finished” the third draft of my novel, Future Girl, I needed opinions, readers, feedback, anything.  So I gathered a group of willing Beta Readers.  These readers are not strangers, although strangers would be ever better, much like what Guy Kawasaki does, but for me, I needed to start small.

So I contacted 15 friends in the hopes of gathering up at least five readers.

Here is the email for the invitation.

Guy Kawasaki

Guy is a genius at soliciting early readers.

Hi,

I need your help, I just finished the third draft of my Young Adult Time-Travel novel,  Future Girl (give my readers an idea of what the book is, because volunteering to read a text book is a different commitment than volunteering to read a copy for a thirty second video)  and I need a couple (so the reader knows he or she is not alone) of Beta Readers (I like Beta Reader as opposed to copy editor, or proof reader – those are more difficult jobs and are better paid)   to read the manuscript and tell me if it’s total crap or not.

If you choose to take on this project (the book is about 140 pages), I’ll send you the book in a Word doc so you can either mark it up, or save it as a PDF suitable for an e-reader. (Give them a choice as well as remind them they CAN transfer the copy to an e-reader).

I am asking for feedback – yeah or nay, by mid July (give them a rough due date in the invitation, the follow up letter will contain more instructions and a specific due date).

Interested?  Let me know, and thank you ahead of time!

Very Best,

Catharine

(I included a summary of the book in the invitation as well, so again, the reader knows what he or she is getting into, they know what to expect – much like any reader – and it forced me to start thinking about how to summarize the book, something I will need to do over and over as I promote it.)

Future Girl

On February 10, 2112 Charity Northquest has her whole future ahead of her – and the future sucks.

On February 11 she is offered the chance to fix it.

When Charity’s best friend is reported killed, but then re- appears as an old woman,  everything Charity has been taught is called into question.  Even if she doesn’t believe, the village rebellion  has already put her family in danger,  so the ill-prepared Charity is transported back to a irresistibly appealing 21st century where she must not only struggle against the  seduction of the past , but also the men who seem to help her.

Her single purpose of  changing the future fades with the increasingly more urgent question, can she survive the past?

Within 24 hours, seven of the 15 requested Beta Readers volunteered to read the book, which was very encouraging!   I immediately responded with the word doc manuscript and further ideas and instructions.

It’s a risk of  soliciting Beta Readers is you must throw your baby outdoors, you must take your brilliant idea and make it real by the very act of handing it out.  This is a huge step, congratulate yourself for doing it, for making the effort.  And I’ll keep you posted on how my experiment works.

You are welcome to re-post this article in your own blog or newsletter – please include this entire statement, “Catharine Bramkamp is a Writing Coach and podcaster, find out if you’re ready to go from  Newbie to Known visit http://www.yourbookstartshere.com or bramkamp@yahoo.com for a complimentary consultation.”

Categories: Newbie Guide Notes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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