Thursday, 20 March 2008


I've got to ask you guys a question. 

What I'm wondering is: 

How did you manage to find your beta readers;

And were they fellow genre-enthusiasts like you;

And how well did you know them;

And were you a member of a critique group?

K, that was more like four questions. But they are all relevant. 

I'm 2/3 completely done with DoA. I have to edit, yes, but then I have to have some impartial minds *that preferably like fantasy* to read through it. It's not swashbuckling fantasy, nor does it have any elves in it. Or trolls. (At least until the second book. *smiles enigmatically*) No spaceships, either. Or vampires. Or werewolves. 

It's rather an odd bird, actually. All the books of the series include Native American legend, a girl, her helper, and a prophecy. This particular book incorporates Ancient Greece and some...other stuff. 

Well, there's a lot going on in it!

Sorry to be so obtuse. But it's definitely fantasy, and let me say, it rocks. *modest* 

I want to get a good cross section, and I already have a couple people lined up to read it, bless their souls. 

If you have any ideas, or know of anybody, I'll send you German chocolate. It's quite devastating. 


zmq said...

I don't know whether I mentioned it, but ... I have a bookshelf full of books about writing (btw, if you're interested ... there are english ones too), so I daresay I have some idea about what makes a book a good book. I hope I'm on the list of beta readers!

on the other hand, I'm not a fantasy reader (but I was, back then when I was young, you know :) ) and of course, I have no idea about good or correct english. (might even be a Vorteil.)

oh, by the way ... you probably should have some beta readers at some point in the process who don't tell you that it's uber-super-wonderful just because they like you and don't want to hurt your feelings. - that's what the books say.

Heidi the Hick said...

I did what we're told not to do: I got my husband to read it first.

REasons? I trust him to tell me gently if it totally sucked. He has a finely tuned Bull**** filter. He was part of the social scene that this story portrays.

Then I got a close friend who's a schoolteacher and all good with the grammar to read it. She took some notes etc.

Next, friend who is also an aspiring novelist who writes newsletters for a day job. This friend knew very little about the culture in the book, so her questions were helpful.

Because I originally wrote it to be YA I had my writer friend's 15 year old son read it. I was scared to give it to a kid. Huh, is that a bad sign or what? My friend assured me that he's pretty thick skinned and could handle it. He carried it around with him for days, which was awesome, and apparently re-read a few pages which made my face turn red.

I managed to some good info out of the kid, like how he felt about each of the characters and why they did what they did. He really liked it! But I couldn't get over my discomfort that he read my extremely detailed nasty little book! (ding ding ding warning bells)

Finally I mailed it out west to someone who doesn't claim to be a writer, but appreciates poetry and writes sensitively and honestly and beautifully. She cringed at first at my scary book but by the half mark was gripped. So I felt like I'd done my job.

I learned a LOT from this process. I've also given the first ten pages to friends from my writers group which was very valuable, but using suggestions from other writers with their own distinct voices would change the voice too much. The trick is to use the suggestions that work for you. Being writers they really caught some grammar mistakes!

I say, give it to people you think would like the subject matter, whose intellect you trust, and who will be honest with you without being harsh.

It's a good experience. I'm now at the point where enough people have looked at it that I can't show it around anymore- I'm so close and the fine tuning has to come from me.

Whew. Sorry for babbling. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Well... I don't know where to find more beta-readers, but if you'd consider a german native speaker - you know where to find me ;-)

Heidi said...

We may be told not to get our husbands to read first, but Stephen King's first reader is always his wife, so if it works for him, why not us?

Actually, I did have my husband read mine but more out of obligation, because he's so supportive. He doesn't read fiction on a regular basis so I don't bank on him being too good a critique.

On the other hand, I don't have a critique group, so I stick with people I know who read a lot. I have friends who are not writers, but read tons, and trust them to say, "this works" or "this doesn't." And even if they try to be gentle, I can usually tell by their voice if they are honestly enthused or just trying to be nice.

JKB said...

My hubs has offered to read it, and I'm going to take him up on it. I also have a coule good friends that are writers; not necessarily fantasy, but that's okay.

I also have a couple German buddies that plan to read it for me I think I'll be okay.

I just wanted to get a wide spread of input......

JenWriter said...

I met most of my beta readers online. They are fellow writers, bloggers and big readers, and they are into the genre. I have one beta reader that's a "real-life" friend. All of them are good about pointing out problem areas and not just saying all is well.