Not a lot.
lol-let me explain.
A lot of people assume beta readers are like editors and immediately go into grammar check mode. While editing is most certainly welcomed, it’s not the main goal I want my betas to focus on. I want you to—
- Tell me what format to receive the book in. I can send it for Kindle, Word, PDF, and just about anything else out there, so feel free to ask. Don’t know what type of file the device you’re using wants? No problem! I probably do. Just give me the details of the device, and I can probably figure it all out for you. I can give you a physical copy if you’re local, or you may print out the copy I give you.
- Read the book in a timely manner. I’ll give a time frame with each manuscript at the time it’s given out. Normally I really need it read within 2 weeks to a month, if possible, but I understand life happens. If it’s going to be more than a month, I need to know. For example, I have a great friend who is honest (which is VERY hard to come by) about my writing. WOW! (I just made every author jealous, because, trust me, that’s hard to find.) But he takes several months to read each book. That’s too long. I have to move on to the next phase.
- What needs to change. Was it too detailed? Does it need more details? Did it feel like it was missing something? Were there sections you skipped because you didn’t care what happened then? Were there places you were lost and didn’t understand what was happening? Did the plot have an oops (was the main character short in the first chapter and tall in the last without the aide of a magical spell, potion, or surgery-was Harry unable to see the Thestral before Cedric died even though he had seen his mother die-doh!)? Were the characters believable/unbelieveable? Did you actually care about the characters?
- Each book will have a short list of concerns I have at the bottom. I ask these not be looked at until after the book is read so as not to affect your opinion as you read. Some examples might be: Did it grab you in the first chapter? Was the book long enough? If I have a specific concern at the end, I will explain it. Like, if I’m worried it’s not long enough, I’ll explain that wanting to read more is a good thing, but feeling like it’s lacking something isn’t. Understand the difference?
- At least one positive aspect. If I don’t get any positive feedback, I’ll take that as a bad sign, so do include one positive thing in there somewhere unless you just hated the book, in which case, I need to know that too. Also, if someone complains about a section, but others like it, I need to know that and weigh my options. This is where some of that positive feedback comes into play.
- Anything else you want to say. Every single person will have a different opinion about every single book. In the date and time of “everything offends”, we’ve grown scared to say anything negative. You will not lose me as a friend. Please don’t be hateful. “This sucked! Burn it.” But the whole purpose of this is to find anything I may I have missed that needs correcting. I see the story in my head, but do you see it in yours? Did I relay it enough for you to see it too? We as writers can’t know that without you telling us. Your job is VERY important.
- Ask questions. If you don’t understand, ask questions. I’m usually more responsive with facebook messaging. It may take me a few hours, but I’ll get to it much faster than e-mail. If you have to contact me another way, that’s fine, but just know fb is the fastest.
- How do you let me know your opinions? You can do this several ways. You can write me an e-mail with a complete summary of everything you thought and found, or you can detail it out. If you received a physical copy, please jot any notes in the margins and hand it back that way. While digital notes are ideal, such as using comments in Word, it’s not required. Again, whatever you’re comfortable with. I’m flexible. And again, if you don’t understand, please ask.
OK, that’s it! I know I wrote a lot, but it’s actually really simple. Just tell me what’s wrong with it IN YOUR OPINION, because, it’s your opinion that counts. And thank you beyond words for being a beta reader.