Aug 27, 2016

On beta reading and beta reading services - Inge @ Of Wonderland || LITHW16

Hey bookworms!

There's so much work put in the process between writing a book and publishing it! One of the best people out there to aid a writer is a beta reader - someone who reads through a manuscript and gives honest opinion - and bloggers excel as this job! Today Inge from Of Wonderland is here to explain the process and how you can build it up as a service offered to writers looking for some critique and opinion!

Hello! I am honoured to have been asked for Learnt It the Hard Way by Mishma and Jillian – I didn’t think I was an expert at anything, really; that I had anything to teach, yet here we are. It’s kind of cool, but also really nerve-racking. I hope I’ll make sense!

I run a beta reading service on my blog, Of Wonderland. I still can’t say I’m an expert because I’ve not had that many clients yet, but I’m already learning a lot about what it means to be a professional beta reader and what can be asked of you. I’m hoping to share a bit of my wisdom with you today.

But first, What is a beta reader? Can you eat it?

A beta reader is someone who reads books in their unfinished, unpublished form, which they will then critique. They’ll provide feedback in terms of plot, dialogue, consistency, pacing, and characterisation. They do not edit or proofread, but will pick apart a book the way a normal reader would. This will help the author improve their manuscript and make it as good as it can be.
You can eat a beta reader. However, that is considered cannibalism and is frowned upon in most societies.

There is a bit of a debate about whether or not you should pay for your beta readers. I wholeheartedly encourage you to get a handful of opinions on your book, because one reader equals only one opinion. I also understand you can’t pay them all. The thing is, when you ask your friends for feedback, chances are great that they’ll sugar-coat their opinions so as not to hurt your feelings. This is, of course, really good for your ego, but perhaps not so good for your book. That’s why it’s good to get at least one objective person in there, someone who’ll work in detail.

So how do you get started with beta reading? If you’d like to start your own beta reading service, the first thing you have to do is put together an information post. Every reader is different, so every beta reader will have a different work method as well. Inform your audience of what you can offer them as a reader. Make it personal! Show them who you are. I decided to insert a bit of humour here and there, such as the cannibalism joke (which I totally plagiarised from my own beta reading page – I can’t help it that my past self is hilarious).

Let them know what genres you read and don’t read – it’s best to offer your opinion on genres you read a lot, because you know what works and what doesn’t in those genres. You want to know what you’re talking about.

You’ll also have to set a price. You can, of course, do this for free and earn an author’s undying gratitude in the process! But if you’d like to earn a bit of money, the best thing you can do is do a quick google to see what you can ask and decide from there. Most people ask a certain amount per 1000 words.

Then spread the word! No one will know about your beta reading services if they don’t know you exist. Find websites where you can advertise your beta reading. Maybe some writer forums will allow you to do this. Go forth and explore!

Any last advice from me? Just like every reader is different, every author is different, too. You’ll have to be a bit adaptable, depending on the author’s wants and needs. I personally like to chat a bit back and forth with the author in between reading – this doesn’t affect my opinion of the book in any way, but it builds a relationship with the author, which I like. Be professional in your information post (e.g. state the obvious – that you won’t publish your feedback anywhere else), but if you go the extra mile and get to know your client, you make the experience worthwhile and fun for both.

Good luck!

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