A while back, I wrote about How I Found My Beta Team for Eyes of the Hunter and promised to share the guidelines I provide my beta readers with to help them give me useful feedback. This is that post 🙂
When looking for beta readers, I target honest and dependable people who enjoy the manuscript’s genre. I also make sure they are familiar with both good writing techniques and important elements to the craft.
To make sure everyone is on the same page, I need to know exactly what I want from my beta readers. Then, I make sure that they know by providing them with a clear list.
Below is the basic letter I give my beta readers, which I tailor per project and person. You can also download the Beta Reader Checklist [pdf] for future reference.
Dear [Beta Reader];
Thank you for being part of my Beta Team! I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to help me make improvements to [Book Title]. Please, don’t worry about grammar, spelling, and punctuation issues; an editor is helping with those. The feedback I’m concerned about centers on continuity, character development, dialogue, flow, and completeness:
- Is the story interesting?
- Does it make sense?
- Any plot holes?
- Does the story flow?
- Is the continuity okay?
- Did I miss any important information or opportunities?
- Do you get a solid feel for the setting and people?
- Do the characters unfold well?
- Do any of the characters need more development?
- Is the pacing okay? Does it lag anywhere?
- Is anything clunky or awkward?
- Are there problem areas that need more attention?
- What worked for you? What didn’t work for you?
- … And, of course, anything else you feel I should know.
Specific concerns I have for this book are:
- [Specific feedback needed]
Please, be as specific as possible with your answers. Your honest comments will go a long way in helping this story be a success. I need your notes by [date]. I look forward to reading them and thank you, again.
Download the Beta Reader Checklist [pdf]
It’s been a while since I’ve had an update for Eyes of the Hunter. That’s mostly because there was nothing but frustration to report. The book was supposed to be released earlier this month, but I hit huge snag trying to find a cover artist. But, I’m happy to announce that I’ve finally found a cover artist and I’m thrilled because her work is gorgeous.
As I gear up for marketing and promos, I will need advanced readers to read and post honest reviews on Amazon, GoodReads, and other sites the book will be sold.
I will post more updates as things progress. For now, let’s just share a Happy Dance that things are moving forward again
I really like green seedless grapes.
Over the past few years, they have gone bad before I could finish eating them. So, I started buying smaller bunches. They still wouldn’t get eaten. I couldn’t figure out why. If I like them so much, why wasn’t I eating them? It was disappoint and frustrating.
A couple weeks ago somebody posted in Facebook that she’d discovered a trick to avoid reaching for junk food when she wanted a snack. She started to keep fruits and healthy snacks on the counter by the cupboard that held their junk food. I’m not a junk food person, but my healthy snacks do get overlooked more often than not.
I decided to try that trick. I washed the grapes, put them in an open container, and left them on the counter. They didn’t last more than a couple of days. I ate them that quickly.
What was the difference? There is the “Out-of-Sight Out-of-Mind” rule, but I always reach for fruit to put on the side of the plate for at least one meal a day. I always passed on the grapes. Why?
….. Ahhh. Because when the grapes are refrigerated, they’re too cold for my teeth and the make my stomach cramp. At room temperature, I can snack on them anytime I want … And I do. I’m out of grapes again 😀
There’s some discussion about trigger warnings on books. Should you include them for your book? The answer is “Maybe”. Let’s take a look at what kind of content may require trigger warnings.
I understand that there are some readers who go overboard, wanting warnings for ridiculous things or not reading the book description to see a warning and then complaining there wasn’t a warning. Some warnings might limit your marketing options with libraries and schools. Things like this can make authors feel like they’re in a no-win situation or overwhelmed by the struggle to decide whether or not you need a trigger warning.
I’m not suggesting every story or scenario needs a warning. Your genre and blurb should give readers a general idea of what to expect. And, a well written story will give the reader a lead up to disturbing events, assuming the reader isn’t so engrossed (or oblivious) to notice. But, your genre and the indication of mature content is not always enough. I’m asking you to consider adding trigger warnings – or at least making it clear in your blurb – if your story includes any of the following:
- Abuse (physical, mental, emotional, verbal, sexual)
- Child abuse/pedophilia
- Self-injurious behavior (ie. self-harm, eating disorders, etc.)
- Kidnapping, forceful deprivation of/disregard for personal autonomy
- Depiction or denial of oppression, marginalization, illness, or differences
- Anything that may trigger phobias or OCD thoughts
If you write Young or New Adult books, there are additional issues that need to be considered. For example, the words stupid and dumb are generally deemed “normal” or “lesser offenses” by older audiences (and authors), however today’s society considers these words slurs.
Young and New Adult
- Sex (even consensual)
- Drug use
- Descriptions and/or pictures of medical procedures
- Descriptions and/or pictures of violence or warfare
- Death or dying
- Shaming, hatred, and -isms (ie. racism, fat shaming, anti LGTBQ+ views etc.)
- Scarification (body modification created by cutting, scratching, etching, or burning designs, pictures, or words into the skin)