Thursday, August 12, 2010

What Do You Expect From Your Beta Readers

Up until a few months ago I always used the same set of amazing beta readers.  I am used to their critique style and in turn are pretty familiar with mine.  I still trust them completely with my manuscripts and always get way too excited when a see a new chapter in their WIP hit my inbox.

I am the midst of beta reading/ critiquing three manuscripts for three different authors for whom I have never read for before.  I am pretty up front with them about my critique style – I am horrible with grammar, am good with characterization, and am a PIA when it comes to dialogue.  I wouldn’t say I am a harsh critic . . . rather a sarcastic one.  Although no one has complained yet, I'm beginning to wonder exactly what kind of “critique” most of you like to receive.

I am a line by line, track changes, this-so-doesn’t-belong-in-this-chapter kind of beta reader.  That said I am curious as to what type of critique you all prefer.  Do you prefer the “questionnaire” type of beta read where we complete a set of pre-determined questions?  Are you partial to the line-by line, point-out-everything kind of critique?  Or are you more of the steam-of-consciousness person that hopes your beta reader will insert comments wherever and whenever they want to?


  1. Line by line...put all the chips on the table preference. I love criticism...the good, bad and the beautiful colors of reds, blues, purples, greens or what ever color preference. It all encourages me.

    It is important to know how others perceive my work and to let me know if they understand the point I am trying to get across. I can handle all of it. It makes me try harder, worker smarter, learn more.

  2. Blatant errors must be noted. Like if I were to co;lkhetely misspell something, I'd want you to tell me. Plot holes are a biggee for me. Probably cause I'm good at creating them! If I've got Joe Blow standing in a room talking, then a paragraph later, he's lying down in bed, woops, something went wrong.

    I guess, just be honest. I don't bother asking what people expect, I just critique and send it off, or take what I get. If they don't like it, then they can issue me a form rejection for beta reading or something. I'm used to form rejections. ;)

  3. I do a line by line as well as an overview. I am very detailed with notes. I had to PDF my last beta read because I had written to much on the hard copy to type. If something doesn't work in the story then I feel it's my job as a beta reader to say so. I'm not sarcastic, but I don't sugar coat either and I expect the same from my beta's. Honest and possibly brutal critiques will help make the stories better. "Oh you're an awesome writer." Doesn't.

  4. Well... since I am not published or any of that jazz, I figure I can only offer what I would say if I would to pick up that person's book in the store. That means the good- "Oh Snap! That was AW-SOME!" or the "Eek. I'm not sure this works here." Pacing is big for me, because I can skim in real life, and so is dialogue and characters. Grammar, I have a cheat program, but I have some papers I memorized for that too. Tell me all of it, because if it stinks I want to know!

  5. Trisha- hi from Florida! Anyway, I like your form of critique. Up front, honest and thorough when it entails plot holes or character flaws. Personally, I love it when beta testers enticer comments as they are's like a play by play ofbhownthey experience your book. Hope your week is good and looking forward to more chapters!

  6. I want a CP who's not afraid to hurt my feelings. I want to know of any inconsistincies or anything unclear. I don't need line edits or spell checks... i ususally catch those with my rereads. However, with that being said, I feel like there should always be something positive for the critiquee (lol).
    I try to find something to compliment on along with my feedback and I like to have the same thing done for me as well. Unless it totally sucks... then I prefer honesty... but surely there's at least one little thing that works. It's important to encourage each other. And a critique full of negative is hardly encouraging.