I spent $40 for a beta reader and am glad I did! Read how this happened.Posted: December 10, 2015
This post is definitely not about a ‘misadventure’.
I’ve been writing and publishing fiction for almost 3 years. (After 35+ years writing for corporations and magazines.) I’ve learned a few things along the way and do many more things ‘right’ than I did back when I wrote and published my first novel, ‘Playing for Julia’. This is one of those ‘right’ things.
As I wrote in my previous post, I’m to the beta reader stage for my new novel, ‘L.A. Ladies’, and decided to move outside the realm of Friends and Family for beta readers. F&F will almost always tell you that the book is good and they loved it–whether true or not.
So, with some trepidation, I joined the Goodreads Beta Reading group. Following their instructions I posted a request for beta readers for my manuscript. And waited. While I was waiting I read other posts by authors and by beta readers and came across a message from a beta reader named Elle who charges $40. There was a link to her site, AlphaBeta Reading, where I found an example of what Elle does as a beta reader. Basically, she goes far beyond beta reading and provides a light edit for a lot less money than a typical editor charges for a line-by-line reading. I was impressed, but not entirely convinced. So I bookmarked her site and waited another day. Still no response to my query on Goodreads.
After a third day with no responses from the Goodreads beta group, I took a chance and sent my MS in .docx to Elle who I later learned had lived in L.A. for a while. That’s helpful since the book is set in Los Angeles and women are the target market.
Within less than a week she sent a reply with line-by-line comments as well as overall observations about characters and plot. For example, her comment about using contractions: I should use more contractions in the dialogue because one character sounded too formal. She caught grammatical slip-ups. She noted overusage of words. She pointed out which conversational exchanges should be revised and why. And who she thought “Who done it” as the novel unfolded. (And what she thought when she found out it was someone else!)
She also made comments that I don’t agree with–primarily having to do with minor characters. She suggested that I eliminate some. I love minor characters in books I read! I plan to keep them in the book, although one supporting character will probably be minimized.
Oh, she made no comments about Pretty Girl, a collie dog that plays an important role in the book.
Perhaps the most important aspect of her reading of ‘L.A. Ladies’ is how she seemed to regard the novel: more as a cozy mystery than a romance. It’s both, but I have to admit it was easier to write the mystery parts of the book than the romance chapters. I’m now trying to decide if I should revise the novel in that direction. Well, I’ll decide that after Christmas.
Overall Elle offered much more than I expected. Take a look at the example of her beta reading at AlphaBeta Reading.