How do the exchanges of beta reading actually work?

So I have a finished novel on my hands. Finished as in I’m satisfied with it and I cannot think of a single thing to add to it and have written it to the best of my abilities. The thing is, I want to sell it as an e-book, which means I cannot post it on Wattpad.

In this scenerio where I get a beta reader, what are some scams I should avoid or things that just aren’t right? Like do we exchange emails and I give word documents of my chapters? What about payment? How much to beta readers typically ask for and is it per number of words or per hour?

To my understanding alpha/beta readers should be charging anything at all, that’s for an editor who is providing a service. However l, that does bring me to ask, have you had this WIP edited ? Has it seen any professional eyes besides your own in reference to anything that could have been fixed that you may have missed ? By ay chance have you left your piece of work for a whole before coming back to it ? This helps when your mind isnt so consumed with it and you forget about some or the nit picky things

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I finished the first draft in 2 years (on and off) and spent the next year (on and off) re-writing some bits and editing everything I could. I’ve written it to the best of my abilities and I personally can’t see anything else to add on or fix. Of course my book hasn’t been seen by a professional, and I’m sure there is room for improvement, but because I’m not an expert writer I just can’t see it yet.

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Hi there :slightly_smiling_face:

As this is a question relating to the publishing industry your question seems better suited to the #industry-insider club. I’ve moved this thread there for you.

Thanks for understanding :blush:

Hollie - Community Ambassador

You can keep the book on Wattpad if you want to sell it. The only scenarios where you’d have to remove it are:

  • You self-publish it through Amazon KDP and enrol it in KDP Select. KDP Select is an optional part of KDP, where you promise not to make the book available in electronic form anywhere except Amazon, in return for various perks.
  • You manage to get a traditional publishing contract, and the publisher tells you to take the book off Wattpad. But they can’t tell you to do that until they actually offer to publish the book. Until they make that offer, there’s no guarantee that the book will get published, and so you could be throwing away your read count and comments on Wattpad for nothing.

Beta readers customarily don’t get paid. Or, if they do get paid, they’re doing much more work than the term “beta reader” implies.

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One more scenario @StevenJPemberton didn’t mention.

If you want to sell your book on Amazon’s KDP, you can’t have the book available anywhere else for a lower price. If it’s on WP it’s priced as free so if someone clicks on the “I found if for a better price” (I don’t remember the exact wording) Amazon will match the price. If it’s free on WP, they’ll make it free on KDP.

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I’ve used a beta readers group on Facebook before. You put up a summary of the book and how long it is etc. Usually, you end up exchanging works with another author, but some may be keen to just beta read without you reciprocating (you do get some people putting up their hands and then disappearing too though).

As for how it works in practice, honestly, everyone has their own method. I set up a list of questions for my beta to answer once she made it through a block of chapters. We’d sent each other Word docs of about three chapters at a time and used track changes for comments. I also beta read for someone who just gave me a link to a Googledoc with the entire file and a long questionnaire to fill out once I read the whole story. No money was ever exchanged.

The other place I found useful is Scribophile, which is set up specifically for authors to critique each other. You upload chapters and your critique partner/beta makes suggestions on the website itself (you can agree beforehand on what kind of feedback you want). Again, you do not pay the person giving you feedback money – the website runs on a karma system. Scribophile itself however has a basic and a premium version with the premium one giving you access to more features on the website.

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Another one I’d recommend is CritiqueCircle. You post chapters for members to critique, and you’re expected to critique the works of others. There’s no requirement to critique the same author who critiqued your work–rather, you build of credits for doing critiques, then spend them to post your chapters. Like Scribophile, there’s a premium version that has more features for organizing novels and creating private critique circles, but many members find the free version is fine.

Everyone’s mileage differs, but my own experience was great. I often got more useful, in-depth feedback on one chapter in one day on CC than I expect to get on the entire novel in a year on Wattpad. It’s a lot of work-for-work, though, because after a while, you discover that the quality of critiques you receive depends a lot on the specific ‘critters’ your work attracts, and that depends on genre, editing quality (no one really likes to read or crit poorly edited stuff), appeal, etc., and hugely on how good your own critiques are.

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I was a member there years ago, and I got a bit jaded towards the end. I received a ton of low-effort
critiques, and I spent a lot of time crafting my own critiques, so it all felt a bit asymmetrical. It all depends on who critiques your work, of course, and you can get low-effort critiques anywhere. It sounds like you got lucky. I do have one ongoing friend from those times, who has beta-read my recent work. And my work certainly improved from the exposure - especially the first few chapters.

I was ready to go back there when I performed the google search that lead me here, instead. So far, I’ve found that this is a better site for getting overall plot-level feedback, and I am still optimistic about getting good critiques, too. The structure of CC, back when I was a member, didn’t lead to many long-term readers. (But then, maybe my older work just sucked.) Because of the point system, it took a long time to earn enough points to post a whole book.

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Good to meet a fellow CC veteran :slight_smile:

Yes, I agree that the experience is a bit pot luck, just as it is on Wattpad. ‘Organic’ doesn’t really cut it on either site. I think I did get lucky on CC (got a good critique from an active and respected member on day 1, and that pulled in others), but also had to figure out the ‘cliques’ there, and make sure I joined one. Ended up with 10 critters who included school teachers, an editor, published authors, etc. It also took so much work that I had to take a break, and haven’t posted there for months. But I’ll go back when I think I have something that needs that sort of detailed tearing apart.

Haven’t had much luck on WP, but I haven’t had the time to market, so I’m not surprised or unhappy about it. The big (potential) advantage of WP for writers is that it’s 90% ‘real’ readers, and the demography is closer to YA, which I’m writing. CC is just for writers, and the demography is skewed older than WP’s.

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Okay… Maybe I can help at some stage? I’ve joined the Flex Critique Club, and I think it will be useful. They only accept people with critique experience.

One great thing about wattpad, compared to CC, is having real readers cheering the MC on and gasping at the reveals - not to earn points, but just because they’re there and it’s easy to comment. I never got that sense at CC (but, like I said, my older work may well have been crap).

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Hey, thanks! Sounds good. No hurry, no worry. Sadly, I’m usually too busy with dreary real-world stuff to commit to things that are on-the-clock, but I do read and comment when I can. Checked out the Halfdead Girl just now - intriguing premise. And thanks for the tip on that Flex club. Will take a look.

Flex Club is not so on-the-clock as most of the others, but yeah, I get bogged down with real world stuff, too.

I threw the question open to some WP readers who also commented on my novel and got some super betas. My demography is out of synch with the typical WP reader, I write adultfiction, so it is important to get the right contacts. Tried Scribphile once but the feedback was idiotic “Don’t like mysteries, so I don’t like this.” Yeah right,how useful is that?
I’m also member of The Writer’s Edge, I would maintain it’s one of, if not the best bookclub on WP.

I went through several critique exchanges with authors before finding other writers I meshed well with. We now read each other’s manuscripts and critique them. We don’t charge, we repay each other by returning that critique favor. I even used them on my Watty winner this year.

I suggest starting with a three chapter exchange to see if you work well together. I found my critique partners a few years ago when I got involved in the #pitchwars community. Sometimes on Twitter there are critique events for those looking for a partner to post and I’ve seen some events where you could apply to be matched up with another writer.

Beta and critique partners generally aren’t professional editors and so their critique won’t be at the same level, but I highly suggest not publishing until you’ve had fresh eyes on your book. No matter your writing level you won’t be able to spot all the issues yourself, but fresh eyes can. If you are looking at paying someone, pay an editor, not a beta reader. Speaking from my own experience as an editor, you’ll get better editing if you’ve covered the basic issues with beta readers first.