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.)
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:
- 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!).
- 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.
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
There are four options on this site.
- 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!)
- Find someone to swap your novel with: Pretty self-explanatory.
- 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.
- 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.