Author Topic: Questions about beta readers  (Read 322 times)  

Offline Gregg Bell

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Questions about beta readers
« on: July 17, 2017, 10:56:07 AM »
This is my first time around with using beta readers. I asked my mailing list and thirty-two said they would.

#1) Is there a good way of winnowing this group down?

#2) What's an optimal number of beta readers? (I was thinking five.)

#3) Should I ask for a line by line critique (just inconsistencies and redundancies, not proofreading) or just a "macro" (where if they notice any major inconsistencies or redundancies or things that hit them the wrong way)?

#4) What files should I send to them? (I was going to send a Book Funnel link (which has an epub, mobi & pdf) and a .docx.)

#5) I figure I can have the book ready in two or three weeks, should I give them a date that I would hope to hear back from them by?

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Offline D A Bale

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Re: Questions about beta readers
« Reply #1 on: July 17, 2017, 11:23:06 AM »
When it comes to beta readers, I usually go with no more than a handful because I'll have to go through each person's notes and five is generally enough in my opinion.  Each of mine generally find something different, some focused more on spelling or transposition issues, others more on sentence wording clarity, punctuation, or general overall read (like continuity).

Probably the best way to whittle down your list to a reliable number is to send a note out to all of those who have volunteered, letting them know the parameters you'd like for their feedback, including a quick turnaround which some won't be able to meet, so that'll help knock that number down a bit.  Once you get a feel for the feedback from this initial group who respond, then you can chalk them up as considerations for your next book and contact only them next time you have a book ready for beta.

1.  Set firm parameters with a short read/feedback window (no more than a week).  If you want, ask them what bothers them when reading a book (missing words, jumbled grammar, transpositions, misspellings, continuity) to see what you can expect from their feedback.

2.  Agree with five, but you'll probably have some who can't meet your deadline or never get back with you, so start your initial list with what you've got and see who does/doesn't respond.

3.  I go with a macro overview by this point, but some provide detail more in line with a proofer too.

4.  BF will be good, but I currently use a converter to create mobi files (all of my readers have Kindles), and then email them as an attachment.  But then I'm kinda out of the mainstream, so ignore me on this one.

5.  Absolutely!  Give them a heads-up that you expect to send the book by X date (so they can prepare their schedule) and that you must have their feedback returned by Y date.

Just my two cents, but this is what has worked in developing my group over the years.  Some readers will be available at certain times while others won't be going forward, but getting a core group who you can depend on in meeting your deadlines and providing good feedback will be a real weight off of your shoulders - eventually.  ;)

Offline NeilMosspark

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Re: Questions about beta readers
« Reply #2 on: July 17, 2017, 12:00:53 PM »
This is my first time around with using beta readers. I asked my mailing list and thirty-two said they would.

#1) Is there a good way of winnowing this group down?

#2) What's an optimal number of beta readers? (I was thinking five.)

#3) Should I ask for a line by line critique (just inconsistencies and redundancies, not proofreading) or just a "macro" (where if they notice any major inconsistencies or redundancies or things that hit them the wrong way)?

#4) What files should I send to them? (I was going to send a Book Funnel link (which has an epub, mobi & pdf) and a .docx.)

#5) I figure I can have the book ready in two or three weeks, should I give them a date that I would hope to hear back from them by?
#1  watch who replies. Send them a chapter. See if they reply. I Promise you some are just there for free books. Reward the best by keeping them on the list

#2 I have 20 and get 3-4 people reply regularly

#3 chapter by chapter is a good request. Most good readers will make notes along the way.

#4 word file or google doc. If you send ePub or mobi or PDF they will not make comments and will just reply "yup I liked it".

#5 yes give them a week to two weeks to read the book. Tell them about it before hand


Also, I use my beta readers for instant reviews. When I do my releases i send the beta readers a request to post their review if they liked it. Usually the engaged readers will do so. Make note of who does this.


In addition I also give away 3 Amazon gift cards for the best reviews. This keeps people engaged and not half heartedly reviewing.




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Offline BWFoster78

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Re: Questions about beta readers
« Reply #3 on: July 17, 2017, 12:58:26 PM »
Quote
#3) Should I ask for a line by line critique (just inconsistencies and redundancies, not proofreading) or just a "macro" (where if they notice any major inconsistencies or redundancies or things that hit them the wrong way)?

My guess is that asking non-author/non-editor readers for line by line critique isn't going to result in much beyond typos and basic grammar problems. Ditto with issues with story structure.

Your best bet is probably to get them to tell you:

- What they liked and what they didn't
- Anywhere they got confused
- If their genre expectations were met
- Any screwups they noticed

I've had feedback that ran the gamut from "I liked this! I don't really have any comments." to a running commentary of hundreds of comments that let me experience the book through that reader's POV.

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Offline Wayne Stinnett

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Re: Questions about beta readers
« Reply #4 on: July 17, 2017, 01:22:10 PM »
I have about 25 beta readers. We use a secret Facebook page, so they are able to talk in near real time about problems, and this keeps me from receiving the same problem items over and over in email. I allow five days for beta reading, then it has to move on to the editor. They look for plot holes only. They're not concerned with grammar, sentence structure, punctuation, or spelling. By having only five days, only 5-10 of them can ever participate at a time, and that's okay.
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Offline Gregg Bell

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Re: Questions about beta readers
« Reply #5 on: July 17, 2017, 04:05:20 PM »
When it comes to beta readers, I usually go with no more than a handful because I'll have to go through each person's notes and five is generally enough in my opinion.  Each of mine generally find something different, some focused more on spelling or transposition issues, others more on sentence wording clarity, punctuation, or general overall read (like continuity).

Probably the best way to whittle down your list to a reliable number is to send a note out to all of those who have volunteered, letting them know the parameters you'd like for their feedback, including a quick turnaround which some won't be able to meet, so that'll help knock that number down a bit.  Once you get a feel for the feedback from this initial group who respond, then you can chalk them up as considerations for your next book and contact only them next time you have a book ready for beta.

1.  Set firm parameters with a short read/feedback window (no more than a week).  If you want, ask them what bothers them when reading a book (missing words, jumbled grammar, transpositions, misspellings, continuity) to see what you can expect from their feedback.

2.  Agree with five, but you'll probably have some who can't meet your deadline or never get back with you, so start your initial list with what you've got and see who does/doesn't respond.

3.  I go with a macro overview by this point, but some provide detail more in line with a proofer too.

4.  BF will be good, but I currently use a converter to create mobi files (all of my readers have Kindles), and then email them as an attachment.  But then I'm kinda out of the mainstream, so ignore me on this one.

5.  Absolutely!  Give them a heads-up that you expect to send the book by X date (so they can prepare their schedule) and that you must have their feedback returned by Y date.

Just my two cents, but this is what has worked in developing my group over the years.  Some readers will be available at certain times while others won't be going forward, but getting a core group who you can depend on in meeting your deadlines and providing good feedback will be a real weight off of your shoulders - eventually.  ;)

Thanks, D.A., for the great information! I figured this was going to be a bit of a learning as I go along experience, but I'm much better prepared now with this information as to what to expect.

"When people agree with me I always feel that I must be wrong." Oscar Wilde
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Offline Gregg Bell

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Re: Questions about beta readers
« Reply #6 on: July 17, 2017, 04:13:34 PM »
#1  watch who replies. Send them a chapter. See if they reply. I Promise you some are just there for free books. Reward the best by keeping them on the list

#2 I have 20 and get 3-4 people reply regularly

#3 chapter by chapter is a good request. Most good readers will make notes along the way.

#4 word file or google doc. If you send ePub or mobi or PDF they will not make comments and will just reply "yup I liked it".

#5 yes give them a week to two weeks to read the book. Tell them about it before hand


Also, I use my beta readers for instant reviews. When I do my releases i send the beta readers a request to post their review if they liked it. Usually the engaged readers will do so. Make note of who does this.


In addition I also give away 3 Amazon gift cards for the best reviews. This keeps people engaged and not half heartedly reviewing.




Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Thanks a lot, Neil. Ha ha--I could tell by some of the initial replies that some of the people just wanted a free book. (Some didn't even mention beta reading at all.) And yeah, I was thinking of including the Word file in case anybody wanted to do the 'track changes' feature. Maybe I'll ask the people who responded how they would like to get the book. But yeah, I would not like the 'yup, I liked it' responses. And two weeks sounds good as I've really still got a fair amount of work to do on the book even before I get their feedback. Appreciate it!

"When people agree with me I always feel that I must be wrong." Oscar Wilde
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Offline Gregg Bell

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Re: Questions about beta readers
« Reply #7 on: July 17, 2017, 04:17:11 PM »
My guess is that asking non-author/non-editor readers for line by line critique isn't going to result in much beyond typos and basic grammar problems. Ditto with issues with story structure.

Your best bet is probably to get them to tell you:

- What they liked and what they didn't
- Anywhere they got confused
- If their genre expectations were met
- Any screwups they noticed

I've had feedback that ran the gamut from "I liked this! I don't really have any comments." to a running commentary of hundreds of comments that let me experience the book through that reader's POV.


Thanks Brian. You know, I really wasn't looking for the line by line stuff, so I like your specific suggestions (which puts into words what I mean by "macro"). Then if somebody wants to do a line by line or something more micro they can. Thanks!

"When people agree with me I always feel that I must be wrong." Oscar Wilde
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Offline Gregg Bell

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Re: Questions about beta readers
« Reply #8 on: July 17, 2017, 04:24:48 PM »
I have about 25 beta readers. We use a secret Facebook page, so they are able to talk in near real time about problems, and this keeps me from receiving the same problem items over and over in email. I allow five days for beta reading, then it has to move on to the editor. They look for plot holes only. They're not concerned with grammar, sentence structure, punctuation, or spelling. By having only five days, only 5-10 of them can ever participate at a time, and that's okay.

Thanks a lot, Wayne. That's very clever having the secret FB page. Maybe next time around I'll try that. And I like the idea of not burdening them with looking for grammar, punctuation etc. And yeah, the brief time factor will cut out probably quite a few of them. Really appreciate it.

"When people agree with me I always feel that I must be wrong." Oscar Wilde
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