Who Would Read My Writing? (Part 2)

Last week, I posted: Who Would Read My Writing? (Part 1). As Part 2 of this post, I’m sharing my experiences in utilizing a few online resources for obtaining beta readers of my work. Most of my experience has been with short stories and I am just recently branching out to obtaining beta readers for a novel length work.

Of note, if you plan on traditionally publish a short story or novel, you need to be careful not to post your work in open domain – such as on blogs, Wattpad, or online forums. (I learned that the hard way with some short stories.) The below options only allow registered users to read your work, which protects it so the traditional publishers don’t freak out.

I’m using the terms critique and beta read interchangeably here.  There are differences between the two:  (Critique partner is a fellow writer and a beta reader can be a reader or a writer.  A critique is more thorough where a beta read is supposed to be a readers perspective on the story.)

WWW.CRITTERS.ORG

I’ve been using this free critique forum for a while now with good success. For short stories, I get a ton of critiques (my last story received over 20 critiques.) This is great… BUT there are two major problems I have:

  1. It’s REALLY hard to sift through these for the comments that matter. I’m guilty of taking everything written in these critiques and changing my story to make the critiquer happy. What happens then, I fear, is my story loses its meaning. I start with a 700 word piece of flash fiction and when I’m done it’s over 2000 words. (And sadly, this has happened to me THREE times this year already!).
  2. My biggest issue: when I make a stupid grammatical error and it is pointed out over and over again. I wish I could go back and revise it before others read it, but with this site, you can’t. (I believe you can do this with Scribophile)

So with Critters, you need to do about one critique per week, and in exchange, you get to put your work in the queue. It usually take about 3-4 weeks for your writing to make it to the top of the queue for review. Then, the members have a week to provide feedback before your writing leave the queue. Of note, Critters has multiple forums for many different genre’s – my experience has only been with the Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Horror forum. The other ones don’t have as many members.

Now for novels, Critters says you can post sections through the usual queue (as described above), or they will do a request for dedicated readers (beta readers).  I tried this ten years ago by posting my first novel (which by the way, was TERRIBLE and is in a drawer. I’m still working up the courage to revise it into something readable.) I didn’t obtain any beta readers this way (they probably read my first chapter and ran the other way). I’ve beta read one author’s work and he says he normally obtains about 4 readers of his novels through Critters.

WWW.SCRIBOPHILE.COM

Then, I recently discovered Scribophile. I just started dabbling in it and LOVE IT so far. You earn credits by doing critiques and once you have 5 credits, you can post a 3000 word or so piece of writing. You can post a short story or chapters of your novel. I like this because you don’t have to wait for your work to enter the queue and you don’t have to commit to a critique a week – you can just do as many critiques as you need to “pay” for your piece. The hidden gem with Scribiophile though, is a novel swap group I joined. You team up a few times per year and swap novels around (no critique credits needed). It appears you end up with 4 critique of your novels (in exchange for doing 4 critiques of others work.) If you can’t wait for the novel swap, you can request dedicated readers through this group as well.

Now that I have a novel that is nearly complete, I’m in need of beta readers. So what will I do?

First, I’d like one person to read it to point out the obvious plot holes and other issues before I hand it over to others.  I’d hate to have the same problem pointed out over and over again. I was lucky and found someone on the Goodreads Beta Reader Group

GOODREADS BETA READER GROUP

There are four options on this site.

  1. Ask for a beta reader: Post a quick summary of your work and wait for someone to reply. I’ve been stalking this site for a few weeks now and it appears to be hit or miss if you have any takers. There are a lot of people offering paid services, but there are definitely some legitimate volunteer beta readers as well. (I want to publically thank them right now for doing this. WOW! There are so many good people in this world!)
  2. Find someone to swap your novel with: Pretty self-explanatory.
  3. Pay someone to read your writing: There are plenty of ads for those that will read and provide you with detailed feedback for a fee. Some are real cheap… $20-30. Some are more expensive… $125. BUT still much less than an editor – but you’ll probably still need one of those someday.
  4. Answer a post for someone wanting to beta read for free. I just did this yesterday and hopefully it all works out.

I imagine there are plenty of other fantastic options out there. (Hey, I wrote almost 1000 words on just 3 of them!)

So, how do you all get feedback on your writing?

I’d love to hear.

–Joy

20140719-BatteryParkCityNY-LunchWithErinAndrew (56Edit)

About Joynell Schultz

Writer & lover of all types of speculative fiction. I'm shivering in northern Wisconsin. Learn about my novels here: http://Author.to/JoynellSchultz
This entry was posted in My Writing Journey, News!, Writing Tips & Resources and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to Who Would Read My Writing? (Part 2)

  1. Steve D says:

    I’m preparing the first manuscript of my novel to send to alpha readers, 4 people I’ve chosen personally to give me an initial impression of my story. They’ll be the first people to see it besides myself. Each one is a close friend that I trust, but whose opinions on writing, fiction, or storytelling I feel are also insightful. It’s a little nerve-wracking to think about, but I’m also excited to see what they think!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Okay… So you taught me something, ALPHA READERS??? Why didn’t I think there would be someone before a BETA reader? Thank you for sharing your knowledge! Good luck with your alpha readers. I agree – it’s terribly nerve-wracking waiting to see if they like it and what major problems I just completely missed. Congrats on having four people you trust to give your first draft to.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Steve D says:

        Haha alpha readers are a defense mechanism to me 🙂 The people who can tell me if my novel is BS before I send it out to total strangers. And thanks, good luck with your new readers!

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Thanks for all these ideas. I had no idea theses resources were there. I thought I was ready for beta readers but I have changed my mind. And my story. But soon…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, I hope you finish your story soon – I hate it when major rewrites are needed. (But I’ve also been reading a lot about not being in a hurry and taking your time to make sure everything is correct — I’m always in a hurry so this is hard.). Thanks for stopping by and commenting 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Well, I do things the hard way. I would either send a few chapters to trusted friends via email or I would go around with printed copies of those chapters and show them to friends and acquaintances. Over lunch or dinner.

    You can only solicit advice from so many people using my method so you have to pick the ones who are qualified to give advice. Like your fellow bookworms, English teachers or successful writers.

    With English teachers, it is enough to just show interest in their work but you have to be prepared to spend money on expensive dinners to persuade a successful writer to read your stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love your idea of just printing your chapters and handing them out! And who doesn’t love a lunch or dinner??? I’m a little shy and don’t think I could do this — but I wish I could! (Plus I don’t know anyone who reads the type of fiction I write, any teachers, nor other writers. Shucks!). Thanks for the feedback and the neat idea!

      Like

  4. hey Joynell, another informative post. thanks for the links, i’ll ck out scribophile. in the meanwhile, I have functioned as a beta reader and have one person who does that for me as well. would like more, but won’t be doing novel length again. if you are full up on beta readers, fine, otherwise, i’ll volunteer. lmk and thanks again!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Awesome offer to beta read for me! Wow. I’m not quite ready yet, but I’ll contact you when I have something good to go to see if you’re still interested. Congrats on having someone who beta reads for you. I’m just interested – why won’t you do a novel length again? Thanks again for the offer and for reading this post!

      Like

      • the books I published were written by my grandfather, pen name Stanley McShane, about 90 years ago. I had an awful time trying to keep them true and make sense of them at the same time. I have more of his manuscripts (long story), but have chosen not to publish any more. his vernacular was rather difficult and as the words were of another century, many no longer even searchable. i’m embroiled down in the marketing and promotion of them through my blog and related author/book events. his novels were not particularly long, but taught me that i don’t have the patience or stamina left for anything of length. my interest lies in short stories, and specifically lately, flash fiction.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Can I Ask a Question? | The Diligent Dilettante

  6. Keigh Ahr says:

    Would you mind saying a little more about the “hard lessons” you learned about posting work on an open domain? I use my blog to draft my stories and novel chapters, and your cautionary note makes me a little nervous.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, you bet! Many magazines it journals will not look at stories published before and they specifically state this includes your own blog. I understand many publishing places are concerned about copyright and/or want exclusive rights. There are some that happily take reprints, just not as many. For novels, I’ve read similar things but it may not be as hard of a rule.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Keigh Ahr says:

        Thank you, that’s very useful information. One thought I’ve had is to keep the drafting for the last chapter or two off the blog — perhaps knowing that what’s on the blog is an incomplete draft will make it less threatening to traditional publishers.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I really don’t know about novel length works. I personally haven’t seen agents or publishers specifically state the “no posting on a blog” clause. I’ve been doing some research and it seems like publishers are getting over their fear and more and more are not as concerned w/ info online. I really am not the expert on that though. Good luck!

          Liked by 1 person

  7. Great article, thank you for sharing those sites with the rest of us!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Tim Austin says:

    Thanks for writing this! I’m a way off from starting to write my first full length novel and there’s a tonne of information to take in first. My fist writing of any length will actually be a collection taken from my OneWordOneStory blog (onewordonestory.org) – people do tend to leave their reviews “live” so to speak 🙂 I’d be interested on your own thoughts on it.

    Like

    • Thanks for stopping by. Hmmm… One word stories that aren’t really one word? How are you planning on publishing it? I have mixed feelings about publishing a collection of stories, since I’ve been thinking about doing it too. From what I find, there isn’t much of a market. But sometimes there is. I don’t know if it’s related to how many fans you have, or if you just get lucky. Multi-contributor collections seem to go over better. I wish you luck with your project. Please let me know if there’s anything I can do to help.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Tim Austin says:

        Ha ha – the idea of the blog is for people to leave a single word and that becomes a title for a story. I then glance at the word, let an image form in my mind and write a story of 100 words each based on that image.

        Perhaps you could suggest a word? There’s a list of pre-loved words at https://onewordonestory.org/pre-loved-words/ (you can click on any of those to read the corresponding story). I’m curious to see what word you’d suggest.

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s