Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Getting ready for Betas

For those of you who've sent your WIP out to beta readers, how did you do it? Did you send them any instructions? Any list of questions or things to keep in mind/look for?

I didn't know what to include, so I sent the proof copy (duh!) along with a package of index cards and a small pack of sticky notes. My hope is my super savvy reader can just throw an index card into the book anywhere she has questions and use the sticky notes for anything else. Scenes she liked, things that didn't work for her, where she lost interest, etc.

I like the index card route because I only have 2 printed copies of my book and I'd like to keep them clean instead of all marked up. Call it pride, that's not too far from the truth.

If you've sent your book out to readers, do you include anything else? I'm nervous and excited at the same time and I want to make sure I get useful feedback. If you have any tips or suggestions, please share! I'd love to hear your experiences!

Thank you!


  1. You sent out a physical copy? I would have just sent a file and let them mark it up in red or something. My beta is my husband though, so I just make him come over and sit at my computer to read my work.

  2. Well, in all honesty, I've never sent a physical copy to anyone for critique. It's always been done online. I send a unique file just for that person so that they can mark it up anyway they want. I usually have a list of concerns that I ask them to keep track of like: where does it get confusing, boring, the writing goes flat, etc... Then they send it back along with an email explaining their comments.

    I did have one partner who printed out my pages so he could read them on the plane. He sent the pages back in an envelope rather than transcribe his comments onto the computer. He just wrote his remarks in the margins, with a nice long note at the end of overall impressions.

    Good luck with your beta readers!! Exciting moment.

  3. I've never sent physical copies, though I've edited and critted from them. (I prefer digital copies; easier to make notes.)

    There really is no one way to do it. Some people warn their betas about sexual or violent content, but others don't. Some ask specific questions. Some just wait to see what strikes the beta. If you don't get comments on your areas of concern, you can always do another round with specific questions. A good beta will respond to specific questions and make general comments (unless instructed to do otherwise).

  4. My beta readers are members of my writers group. They usually use "track changes" in word to make their comments. It's great.

    Just stopping by to say hi to a fellow campaigner.


  5. I've done both physical copies and electronic copies. For my weekly crit group, I send 15 pages electronically and everyone uses "Track Changes" to share their feedback. There's time for personal follow-up, conversation and for me to ask questions about specific points where I'd like guidance.

    The few times that I've sent physical copies, I've asked the reader to simply note any comments, edits or questions in the margins or on the manuscript itself.

    Good luck! I've found betas to be SO helpful!

  6. I have no insight whatsoever, but I think it's hysterical that everyone is suggesting 'track changes' in Word. Only because I know how much you detest it.


  7. Yes, it is true. I'm not a fan of tracking changes. At all. :)

    My initial reaction upon reading these comments was "Oh no! I'm doing it wrong!" I got two copies of the book printed--the first one was free and the second was for a friend who really wanted to read it. Since I didn't have the heart to send them a 3-ring binder with the pages printed out, I just sent the book.

    These comments are SUPER helpful though. I'm part of a crit group and we sent 15-20 pages every two weeks. It kept us on track and dedicated to providing quality feedback to each other.

    I guess I need to step back and understand that I'm just asking my 2 friends to read my story. As writers, they will point out story issues, but I guess if this was a "true" beta experience, I would send my WIP in whatever format the reader requested, even if that means dealing with Track Changes. ;)

  8. Fellow campaigner and new follower stopping by to say hello.

    I've always sent a manuscript through an email file and let the reader use whatever format worked for them to comment on it. I've done hard copy critiques with writing groups before, but I find that usually ends in a lot of paper stacks littering my office :)

    But your idea with the index cards and sticky notes sounds great. That's my method when I do personal revisions on my own manuscripts. Just go with what works, and don't be nervous. Getting critiqued is actually really fun. No really, I promise :)

  9. Hello, fellow campaigner! I'm not in your group, but I still wanted to check out your blog and say, "HI!"

    Aren't Betas fun! I've been working with mine lately. Feedback is so fun to work with. :)

  10. ooh you sent them hard copies? That's awesome! I love the sticky note idea.
    I sent my betas a list of questions, but in hindsight, most of them just answered the questions as yes or no and then didn't elaborate. So i think your free reign technique will probably work out better


I love getting comments. They're as much fun as getting real snail mail. So please, chime in and tell me what you think!

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