Finding Beta readers

VRlass

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 15, 2022
Messages
82
Hello everybody,
I am a new guy in here and OH BOY, WHERE WAS THIS FORUM MY ENTIRE LIFE!!!??
Imagine my situation:
Currently I live in remote town of a country where folks don’t use English a lot, and its not really my first language too .
I could try writing something in my native, but from what all my friends tell me somehow my English texts are cooler than my native ones.
I am very keen on switching from ouchthor to a fully feathered writter but I don’t know any fellow writers. The critique i am getting is from reader level, and in most cases from people who need to check words in dictionary (Btw the fact that people read my stories with dictionaries think tells me something of their quality - i don’t believe in my personal charm this much).
Do you perhaps know some cool sci-fy writers groups that runs online?
Or,
Wanna start one?
 

The Judge

Truth. Order. Moderation.
Staff member
Joined
Nov 10, 2008
Messages
13,753
Location
nearly the New Forest
Hello and Welcome to the Chrons!

We actually have a Critiques forum here, which is a valuable resource for writers. It's not open to you just yet, since only members with at least 30 counted posts can put up an excerpt of their work there, but join in threads and your post count will soon mount up. There is a thread limit of 1500 words, but we usually suggest that newcomers only put up around 600-800 in the first instance, as that's usually enough to show if there are any obvious matters which need looking at, and the longer the extract the fewer critiques one is likely to receive, as it takes time and effort to give feedback which is useful.

While you're waiting to get your 30 posts, though, do go and have a look at the Critiques forum, and perhaps offer your own thoughts on recent threads -- most of us here have found that thinking about someone else's work in order to give feedback can be just as helpful in improving our own writing! In addition, if you want to be part of a writing group, where you'll be swapping critiques with others, it will help members here to see what your standard of critiquing is like, and if it's the kind of thing that would help them.

Also while you're waiting, we have two flash fiction Challenges open at the moment, which are also excellent ways of improving one's skill -- the 75 worder has a theme and genre, and the 300 worder has an lovely image by way of inspiration. As well as the fun of taking part (and possibly getting votes in due course!) we have specific "Improving" threads where, after the relevant Challenges are over, one can put one's story up and ask for feedback, so getting some kind of critique on one's writing immediately.

So join in, ask any questions that worry you about writing, and make yourself at home!
 

Astro Pen

Write now.
Supporter
Joined
Jan 24, 2020
Messages
1,443
Location
Wales UK
Welcome.
Yes, try the writing challenges. It is a good introduction. You won't get a 'critique' as such but your entry will get a short review from @Parson and @Victoria Silverwolf
There is also a regular 100 word challenge which is anonymous, so the stories stand on their entirely on own merit, (though you will find that some writers here have a recognizable style.)
Sometimes you find that an idea from one of your entries acts as a 'seed' for a full short story to submit elsewhere.
Like some pubs, there is a ban on politics, religion and contentious current affairs, which keeps things friendly, :cool: and has done a lot to make the site welcoming to all.
 

msstice

200 words a day = 1 novel/year
Joined
Mar 27, 2020
Messages
364
Do we have a beta reading swap "market" going on here, or could we have one going? I've been on these forums a while and there are many familiar names here I would trust to do a reading swap. I'm a little more afraid of the wider internet, including reddit.
 

The Judge

Truth. Order. Moderation.
Staff member
Joined
Nov 10, 2008
Messages
13,753
Location
nearly the New Forest
By all means start a separate Beta Readers Swap Shop if you want, msstice, and we can pin it at the top of Writing Discussion, so it's readily available for those who want it in the future.

But if you do, I'd suggest you set out some guidelines. For instance, those asking for help should make it clear what they're writing/wanting read with enough detail that members can work out if they want to help that person eg "Steampunk set in an alternative New York with zombies; themes around identity and concealment; third draft amounting to 110,000 words; opening chapter already in Critiques." (And I would urge those wanting help to put something up in Critiques so their writing can be assessed in advance, and again members can see if it's of the kind/at the level they'd be happy to read more of.) Similarly, those offering help should make it clear what they're willing to read/are able to help with eg "Fantasy preferred; happy to read SF, but can't help with the science. No horror or zombies! Would prefer to read in c20k instalments rather than in one lot."

Also, members shouldn't forget that those asking for readers may find themselves being offered help by someone whose critiquing ability is not what they're looking for, and on the other side those offering beta reading may find themselves being asked for help by someone whose work they don't find congenial. So whether offering or asking, members will need to decide whether to grin and bear it, or to have some kind of gracious "Thank you, but no"/"Sorry, but no" refusal ready.
 

AnRoinnUltra

Go on the humans!
Supporter
Joined
Aug 15, 2021
Messages
619
do a reading swap.
Looks like you're nearly ready for a test voyage;) @The Judge put it very well -from my limited understanding you need to find someone who 'gets' what you're trying to do. I was luck enough to get a few people to read my book. The advice varied and sometimes contradicted, but there was one writer who seemed to be into the story and I ended up just going along with whatever they said.
It's a tricky thing. I'm not claiming to know much about it but the goal might be to find someone who likes the story and wants to help you get it to work (I haven't forgotten about the Sept '22 beta read thread -though any advice comes with a low skill warning). Good luck
 

msstice

200 words a day = 1 novel/year
Joined
Mar 27, 2020
Messages
364
@The Judge important insights re: the beta reader swap. I would indeed like to try out a beta reader swap market and see how it goes. I'd like to hijack this thread to workshop the wording of the thread i.e. The Rules.


Beta reader swap thread

Scope

  1. This is for pieces longer than what is normally posted on the critiques forum: short stories > 1500 words, novellettes, novels.
  2. It is for a reader to primarily give a gestalt impression of the work: character development, plotting and pacing, though they are free to give more mechanistic feedback too.
Requirements to read
  1. In order to offer to read you should have critiqued at least 10 pieces on the critiques forum. This will let writers know your critique style and level.
  2. List the genres you are willing to read
  3. List the maximum length you are willing to read
  4. State your availability.
Critique requirements
  1. There are no hard and fast rules, but the guidelines found on the "critiques" forum are a good start. Please be constructive and respectful (on both sides - reader and writer) and as far as possible, actionable: please give feedback the writer can use to change something concrete.

Requirements to request a reading
  1. You should have critiqued at least 10 pieces on the critiques forum. This will let prospective readers know your critiquing style and commitment, since the expectation is that you will return the favor.
  2. Your work should be as complete and perfect as you can think of making it before you request someone else's valuable time in going over it. At the very least, you should have spell checked it, grammar checked it and read it yourself at least twice. Ideally, this will be a finished second or higher draft.
  3. State the genre (target audience) and word count and whether you are requesting a full read or a read of specific chapters of a larger work.
  4. If possible state what draft of the work this is.
  5. State the time frame in which you want the critique to be done
Marketplace mechanics
  1. This is the internet. Be careful of sharing personal information, including email addresses with others.
  2. Since this is long form text and critique you will have to decide on a medium of exchange. Often the easiest is a shared google doc. Be aware that this involves sharing email ids. It is easy to make a free gmail account that is not easily traceable to a real identity.
  3. Though the simplest arrangement is a critique swap between two people, larger groups can be organized. You have to work this out for yourselves.
  4. The intention is to exchange kind-for-kind labor: critique for critique, but any personal arrangement can be made. Please do not discuss these arrangements publicly on the forum: it is a private matter.
  5. The sole purpose of the marketplace is to allow reader and writer to match up. The rest is a point-to-point personal matter.
  6. That said, we expect the same rules to apply as we have for the Chrons: be respectful, be constructive, and, in this case, please respect the intellectual property and confidence of others.
Process
A publicly viewable spreadsheet will be created (Uh Oh). Volunteers from the Chrons will have write access to periodically take data from the thread and put it in the spreadsheet. Users can then refer to the spreadsheet to find partners. If you are currently partnered up, please mention this in a thread post so that the spreadsheet can be updated to indicate this.
 

Venusian Broon

Defending the SF genre with terminal intensity
Supporter
Joined
Dec 7, 2011
Messages
5,159
Location
Edinburgh
Hi @msstice, this might be a good idea.

However, just a thought.

I've beta'd or read private manuscripts of about ten full length novels here (Just finished one today!). However I don't contribute on the critique section. That is because I don't do 'partials' - sometimes an excerpt that doesn't work by itself, actually really works as part of the whole finished piece, and also I feel focusing on such a small portion of the final story may generate busy work for the author that perhaps was not necessary at all.

(Sometimes of course, it can be very useful for the writer, I am fully aware, particularly if basics need some work.)

So I only "accept" full stories to beta and try and view everything 'holistically'.

Critiquing 1500 words of a novel <does not equal> Beta'ing a full 80-200k novel, basically.

So, if the rules were as you've put them, I wouldn't qualify. :giggle:

So...the only thing I could think of instead, is that if you were still nervous, I could give you 'references' from people that I've beta'd and you could PM them to ask what I was like for them. (That is, assuming they agree to doing that, but we'll cross that bridge if we ever come to it.)

Oh, and I'm not too bothered making it two-way. I'm more than happy to take on some projects and not require my manuscript to be read by the other party.

No problems if you disagree, I'm sure I'll continue to find manuscripts for me to beta no matter what happens.
 

The Judge

Truth. Order. Moderation.
Staff member
Joined
Nov 10, 2008
Messages
13,753
Location
nearly the New Forest
Um... well... the lawyer in me greatly applauds the fine-tooth combing, msstice, but the writer in me frankly thinks this is waaaay over the top, and then some.

I really don't think you need rules of this kind. Actually, you don't need rules of any kind. This isn't a formal service that has to be monitored with spreadsheets and feedback and consequences if things go wrong, it's just a way for members to put their hands up and ask for and/or offer help -- putting it into one thread, rather than many individuals asking in separate threads.

Putting work up in Critiques and having given critiques is going to be helpful to those both asking for and offering help, so it's certainly worth recommending it, but requiring a minimum number of critiques is simply going to limit the number of people willing to take part, so is actually counter-productive.

And if it turns out that member A gets narked because she put in a lot of effort to read and critique member B's crappy story and then member B doesn't help her at all, well, she'll just have to chalk it up to experience and look around for someone else who can help.

Really, you just need a thread and a few suggestions of the kind of thing members should say whether asking for or offering help. What happens after that is down to the members themselves who can contact each other via PMs and send their work to each other in that way.
 

sknox

Member and remember
Joined
Mar 25, 2013
Messages
1,750
Location
Idaho
I agree with most of the Rules, but I also agree with Judge, in part. Maybe call them Expectations. I do think it's a good idea to let both reader and author know that the beta swap on this particular site isn't just freeform as it is at many other sites. So I would remove the "or else" clauses.

I agree with Venusian Broon about full vs partial works. I don't do critiques of partials because I've found that 1) these are often incomplete works and so I'm trying to critique an unfinished song or painting; 2) most fragment limits are way too short to say anything meaningful except down at the sentence level, which is rarely what the author wanted; and 3) all too often when making more general comments the author will say oh, but I cover that somewhere else. To put it another way, only with a completed story can I comment meaningfully on the story.

As for level of commitment, I would say that anyone posting--or perhaps just first posting--a full story should be expected to do a critique. IOW, no just dropping in, collecting feedback, and dancing away again. Not only is that unfair, it's actually not helpful to the author; or rather, critiquing the work of others is immensely valuable to the new author.

Which brings me to another benefit of having Expectations. It lets the forum itself tell the newly-arrived author context and explanation. With no stated expectations (and their reasoning), the author very likely will have expectations that will not be met and will be needlessly disappointed, or even angry.
 
Joined
Aug 10, 2022
Messages
6
Hello and Welcome to the Chrons!

We actually have a Critiques forum here, which is a valuable resource for writers. It's not open to you just yet, since only members with at least 30 counted posts can put up an excerpt of their work there, but join in threads and your post count will soon mount up. There is a thread limit of 1500 words, but we usually suggest that newcomers only put up around 600-800 in the first instance, as that's usually enough to show if there are any obvious matters which need looking at, and the longer the extract the fewer critiques one is likely to receive, as it takes time and effort to give feedback which is useful.

While you're waiting to get your 30 posts, though, do go and have a look at the Critiques forum, and perhaps offer your own thoughts on recent threads -- most of us here have found that thinking about someone else's work in order to give feedback can be just as helpful in improving our own writing! In addition, if you want to be part of a writing group, where you'll be swapping critiques with others, it will help members here to see what your standard of critiquing is like, and if it's the kind of thing that would help them.

Also while you're waiting, we have two flash fiction Challenges open at the moment, which are also excellent ways of improving one's skill -- the 75 worder has a theme and genre, and the 300 worder has an lovely image by way of inspiration. As well as the fun of taking part (and possibly getting votes in due course!) we have specific "Improving" threads where, after the relevant Challenges are over, one can put one's story up and ask for feedback, so getting some kind of critique on one's writing immediately.

So join in, ask any questions that worry you about writing, and make yourself at home!
oooo this is just what I am looking for! Just completed my first novel, Book 1 of the Etch trilogy so will be jumping on here plenty for any feedback/beta readers that are interested. And also just to get involved! It's a strange thing writing a new world and getting any words out there/meeting likeminded people can be pretty daunting. So.. amazing! Looking forward to being a part of this community :)
 

Wayne Mack

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 12, 2020
Messages
1,147
Location
Chantilly, Virginia, US
oooo this is just what I am looking for! Just completed my first novel, Book 1 of the Etch trilogy so will be jumping on here plenty for any feedback/beta readers that are interested. And also just to get involved! It's a strange thing writing a new world and getting any words out there/meeting likeminded people can be pretty daunting. So.. amazing! Looking forward to being a part of this community :)
Welcome. I think you'll find this to be a helpful group. You'll find a lot of opinionated people, but opinionated in a kind and fun manner.
 

Similar threads


Top