Update: I'll be doing dramatic readings of my blogs...because why not?
Beta readers. Pfft. Am I right?
The bane of your existence.
You’ll go through hell and back and get burned in the process to find that magical team of people who will read your book for free and tell you all their thoughts on it.
You spend hours scouring forums, groups, clubs, twitter hashtags, under your couch to assemble this team.
You’ll even write up a questionnaire to help direct your beta’s feedback—the problem is you want their unadulterated thoughts—the things that stand out to them. You don’t want to sully their reading experience by having them focus on something they wouldn’t have otherwise noticed.
You estimate the amount of time it’ll take to read the manuscript so your beta will have an idea of how much time they’ll spend reading it.
You set a deadline so they don’t let the manuscript linger in their in-box.
You send kind and friendly reminders that you’re looking forward to their thoughts.
And this is what you get for your efforts:
Beta Reader 1
Feedback: I liked it.
Beta Reader 2
‘The Doesn’t-Understand-How-Feedback-Works Guy’
Feedback: Can’t the protagonist’s name be changed to something different? I knew a guy named Jesse in middle school. He wore gamer t-shirts and always farted in the hallways, so I couldn’t stop thinking about him when I read, even though I know the character in the book is a girl and named Jessie and a powerful witch.
Beta Reader 3
Never heard from again
Beta Reader 4
‘The Unrelenting-Promise-To-Read Beta’
Email 1: I swear I’ll get to it this weekend
Email 2: I was busy this weekend but I’ll start on Tuesday
Email 3: *One month later* I’ve been sick haven’t started yet but I'm just opening the doc on my computer now.
After publication: I plan on starting it tomorrow.
Beta Reader 5
Feedback: It was okay. You should shorten the chapters though.
Beta Reader 6
‘The Doesn’t-Understand-The-Genre-They-Agreed-to-Beta-Read Beta’
Feedback: I liked the characters and their relationships but does all that sciencey stuff have to be in there?
(The genre is science fiction)
Beta Reader 7
‘The Doesn’t-Know-Who-You-Are-Or-What-They-Agreed-To-Do Beta’
Feedback: What did you think of the chapters I sent you?
(You never agreed to beta their work)
Beta Reader 8
‘The Made-Assumptions-About-The-Story-Based-On-Title-And-Genre--Only-Skimmed-Through-And-Didn’t-Actually-Read Beta’
Feedback: Needs more boobs. That Dan guy seems like a pussy. Make him more like an alpha male and I might recommend him to my lady friends.
Beta Reader 9
‘The I-Loved-It-But-Change-Everything-About-It Beta’
Feedback: I really love this one *writes a novel/email on everything you need to change* *none of it is helpful* *it’s all advice that clearly doesn’t understand the genre* *did they even actually love the book* *have they ever read any other book* *Less sex? It’s an erotica set on a dystopian space ship*
Beta Reader 10
Plagiarized your work and published it under their name.
Welcome to hell.
What has been your beta experience?
Do you recognize yourself as any of these beta readers?
(I'm guilty of #3 and #4)