Finding people who will read/critique your entire book for Trad publishers.

So I’ve been aiming high since I was about 13? cough Pre-Internet. Incidentally I have a history of publishing in my head.

I’m really good at finishing stories, getting alphas to read the story, but when it comes to getting the final polish on the story… welllllll…

Finding someone who wants to do this is hard.

So, there are critiquing websites, but then it’s still hard because people don’t particularly tend to crit PoC (not that other diversity is that much better either…) books that much, and anything over the third chapter, gets fall off. i.e. the critiquers are less likely to show up because no one keeps track of them. On these platforms it’s usually short stories and books that do well.

On doing a swap, often the person wants an alpha, but I’m a terrible alpha, and the level of critique I need back is a beta. It’s NOT that I hate their comments, etc, but it’s often that I’m looking for something deeper. Someone who will slash it to pieces if need be.

One book I did critique, where the person was serious, quit the exchange, since she stopped posting chapters anymore and then she got published. (We’re still friends and I still promote her book). I encouraged her to push towards getting published. I hope she does her next series soon. I did buy her books, too… (She managed it with a difficult to market book too).

There is also the revenge critique in swaps, which I dislike… you know it, the one that goes, you picked on me for this, so I’ll also pick on you for that too.

I’m willing to put the work into the exchange, that’s not the issue. The issue is finding that perfect someone to both finish the book in question, give it the edits it needs, and finding their book and attitude towards me professional enough that I can also finish their book.

So how do you get past the 10% drop off rate for betas and find decent ones that will complete your book without having to pay them and still get it to that final polish state for the traditional publishers?

Critique circle was good, though it’s a quid-pro-quo system where you have to critique work of others to get enough points to post a chapter. However I’ve had some solid feedback from there, and the site is free to use.

betabooks is another site that is specifically for beta readers, although searching the list of available readers is pro-only. The free account does allow for inline comments, questions and guiding advice though. Still all available through gdocs (which doesn’t have a 1 book limit).

finding a good beta reader is difficult, and it takes a lot of false starts to find someone who is both willing to read the whole thing, and has the time to do it. It just takes time, keep looking!

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I had issues with racism on the platform that unfortunately went to the higher ups who refused to protect the PoCs. cough black people, rocking chairs, porch and watermelon and protecting white people who used the N-word towards people spelled out… yeah… cough

Beta Books must be newer. I’ll check them out. Thanks.

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I had better luck finding critique partners in the real world than on the internet. But even there, you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you hit critique partner gold.

Pretty sure those metaphors don’t work together AT ALL.

A friend from work asked me to join her group. She was awesome. The group fell apart, but she and I kept at it. She started a different group (that I couldn’t join at the time), and she met Bill. I eventually joined, and the three of us have been partners for years (through several group changes).

Once you find gold, you hang onto it. Those two are both published (as am I, though in nonfiction). We know how to give the others what they need. At this point we’re online, but we started in person.

I guess my point is don’t stick just to the internet. Be open. Be willing to find just one person. Maybe put together your own group. Check the library. Check a nearby college campus. Ask around work.

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Okay, I just answered totally about critique partners, not betas. I have experienced the major drop off rate with betas too – it’s really frustrating! That’s another place where I hang onto individuals who are reliable when I find them.

I FEEL YOUR PAIN!!

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sorry to hear that, I didn’t interact except through critiques, which might have helped? But still, that’s not okay. :grimacing:

this! I had a critique circle when I was doing short fiction where I had one writers who was great, but sadly she moved and I took a break, and I have yet to find someone to work with again, so today I mostly rely on critical re-reads of my own and feedback that is similar across a few chapters that I keep in mind with the rest.

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I haven’t had a LOT of experience with this, but I find beta readers on Wattpad can be really good. You just need to find someone who is dedicated enough to read the entire novel, which requires patience.

I also have my friends critique my works. Whilst they’re in no way professional, it can be valuable to get a friend’s opinion, as long as they’re not going to sugar coat your work.

There might also be some bookclubs that will help you meet someone for beta reads/critiques. I’m part of the Will You Continue bookclub and have had some success with that.

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I do this for my first rounds of critiques. The alpha round. I torture uhh… coax my alpha with my manuscripts and ask her to read them. I have other alphas for other things too along the way. My Alpha is love for me. She slaps my work hard and puts up with my endless whining in the most flat practical voice possible and tells me flat out what I’m going to do anyway. (It’s not a one way relationship, though…) But usually alphas aren’t good for the final polish, unfortunately, and that’s where I need people aiming for the same thing and know the work involved to step in.

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Maybe you could advertise that on the beta readers section? Ask for people who have polished works and advertise for a partnership? It might not work, but it couldn’t hurt to try.

I did a writer’s camp as a teen which was invaluable. Unfortunately, I’m stuck in a place that does mainly scripts Almost all the writer’s clubs locally are for scripts only. Sometimes I think I should move near NYC just to get a circle of writer friends that will do books. I think sometimes I should just start my own too… so the group would have the same aims overall. Getting diversity books published. Because it’s tough out there and people need the extra support.

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Have you tried other writing forums? I’ve had a pretty decent beta reader for a couple years until I let that fall through the cracks… but, I found him on another writing forum, which in my experience are usually a tighter, closer knit group. Of course, on those sort of forums you should build a rapport with the community first, then ask for a beta, since it helps increase the probability that they’ll finish the novel.

Maybe, also, you aren’t marketing to the right crowd, and you’re handing it out to the wrong reader?

The best feedback I have gotten is through Bookclubs on here. I haven’t fished around for serious Beta readers (Although I have one at the moment, but that happened becuase of bookcubs!)

This is a very slow route and took me a year to feel out certain bookclubs. You will meet a few serious authors on there willing to partner up. You will also get some awesome feedback along the way.

The thing is I tend to write books with diversity in them, so it’s tricky versus one without it.

I wrote a character that was from an old what is now called Indian Kingdom, and it’s really hard to get people to just let that go and find that perfect reader that’s curious enough to read and willing to look past it to the core story itself. Off of that story, BTW, I got people objecting to the fact I wouldn’t spell out that it was an ancient Indian Kingdom. eyeroll But they have no issue with “Gaul” in stories…

Another reader got upset when I mentioned “sari” and said I needed to “translate it” and then other readers got upset even when I had the context of what it was with me mentioning any Sanskrit words at all. Another reader was like, It’s not “Indian enough”. My friend, who is Indian, went over the sections set in India, and had no issues with it. I had to strike a balance, but often reader get hung up on the diversity over the story.

I also have a habit of putting in story conventions from the country/region in question. Also wishing people would let that go. If it doesn’t follow an exact 3-Act pattern, doesn’t mean it’s bad. Some of my favorite TV episodes tend to break it up a lot more and play with form.

My ideal beta would be one that reads worldwide and is willing to look at the story over the diversity and not get hung up on it if I put it into context. I’m well aware this is harder to market, but there are equally stories out there that manage to put in those types of things and get forgiven. There are worse stories that get to market too. (Like the erotica about the Tooth fairy and Santa Claus… yeah and it’s worse than you are thinking it is… and it got a sequel somehow…)

I’m with @XimeraGrey. Meeting in the real world is where I’ve had the best luck. My best advice would be to find a writing group. The first writing group I was a part of was extremely diverse, both in background, age range, culture and ethnicity, and I got amazing feedback. Look for people who advertise being “honest but fair”, because you’ll get more from those group than the “Yey everyone’s a writer!”

Next, I’d say invest in a writing conference of some kind. The two I’ve been to has opened doors to some of the best critique partners I’ve ever had, and without them, my writing would still be floundering.

And lastly, I’d say check out the writing community on Twitter. I was honestly shocked to read your comments regarding race and PoC, because I constantly see people on Twitter openly looking for other PoC to read and critique their work and they’d be appalled to hear what you’re going through with that (sorry as well, that can be very discouraging). There are agents and editors who are only looking for “ownvoices” right now too, and just checking their follower list you’ll find a great group of writers who are looking exactly what you are.

Best of luck to you!

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Hey there,

I won’t be able to provide free work past the first chapter as I try to become pro, but If you’re interested to see what I’m worth, I opened a feedback service offer on the forum.

Finding free work for beta is very hard, regarding engagement and quality. That being said, with luck and good friends, it can be done.

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If some readers tell you there’s too much of something, and others tell you there’s not enough of it, it’s probably about right. If you have a majority leaning one way or the other, then the chances are they’re right, and you should probably fix it. (Or else you’ve picked too many readers who aren’t in your target audience.)

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Yup, Pro final editing is work , especially on long manuscripts, and oddly enough, might require a pro, to make any difference over a normal critique. Such are paid services. Many publishers do not suggest them, and feel that they are quite capable of making their own suggestions if a story comes forward that they like enough. Others encourage doing it, some of these for ulterior reasons,such as kickbacks, etc. Varies.Up to you…

Probably, but most of the comments are on THAT and nothing else about the story, even with guiding questions. I have a sensitivity reader. I double checked certain parts also with other people from the region as well. The problem is that these people commenting on the diversity aren’t Indian or Desi, so I don’t get why they get so hung up on it. Just let it go. I wouldn’t mind so much if it was “In the mix” and had other comments on top, but usually it’s more than half is about the diversity.

Most of the own voices are for only YA, at the moment. Twas a back slide, honestly. I don’t mind reading YA, but I don’t exactly feel good about strapping someone with a long book either because it’s adult length.

But I’d be interested in seeing the hashtags on twitter where such requests are being made. Most of the ones I see are for the agent and publishing side, rather than writers gathering side.

I write for adults… because when it’s made it, then publishers stop thinking this is a fad. Publishers use YA as a testing ground most of the time for new ideas, more malleable readers, and if it sticks, they can hit with another round in the adult section in 10 years. I figured this out from chronically visiting bookstores over the years.

Not being three-act doesn’t mean it’s bad, BUT you have to think about your target readers. I LOVE all the things you’ve mentioned you do to track what’s happening in the industry. This is part of that, I think. American readers are inundated with three act structure, love it or hate it.

I understand WHY you would want to use structures common to the culture you’re writing about. And I even think it would be good for Americans to learn that there’s more to the world than they imagine, LOL. But you might have to get creative about how it’s presented – set the expectations.

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It sounds to me as though you need some more open-minded readers :slight_smile: It’s coming across as what happens when you go to a place where most of the people speak with an accent you haven’t heard before. At first, everybody sounds the same, because mostly you’re hearing the features that make the accent different from the accents you’re used to. If you stay there long enough and talk to enough different people, you’ll be able to distinguish individual voices again.

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