Duties of a Beta Reader

With more authors taking the indie route, the term “beta reader” is getting tossed about more and more. But, what is a beta reader? What does the task entail? Here is the information I provide to prospective beta readers to help them understand their duties. (Link to downloadable pdf at the end.)

What is My Job as a Beta Reader?

As a beta reader, you will identify what type and tone of story the author is going for and shape your feedback to help the author realize their vision for the story.

You are the author’s extra set of eyes. You will highlight areas that need improvement and give (gently) honest feedback to weed out story issues before the manuscript goes to an editor.

 

 

What Issues Does a Beta Reader Look For?

As a beta reader, your focus will be on development. This includes plot, characters, and over all story cohesiveness.

1. Look for issues like:

2. Make note of the issues you find, question to see if that’s what the author intended, and offer suggestions for fixing it.

3. Use the Track Change option to mark your comments and corrections directly in the manuscript.

4. Be honest. If a joke doesn’t work, let the author know. Don’t brush off things that are awkward, factually incorrect, or out of character/theme/flow. It’s better to question and suggest than let something potentially problematic slide.

5. Be specific and descriptive with your feedback. Give the author something solid to work with. It helps if you give a brief explanation of why you’re making a suggestion so the author is more open to consideration.

6. Be kind. You want to avoid making the author feel defensive or hopeless. Try to “sandwich” critiques with praise or phrase them as a question/suggestion.

7. Leave editing for spelling and grammar to an editor. If you see inconsistencies in spell (ie. UK vs USA spellings) or a repeated editing related issues, make a note for the author to go through the manuscript specifically for that issue.

8. Meet the deadline. The author is on a schedule and it takes time to incorporate beta notes into a revised draft, so please be sure to have your notes back to them on or before the deadline they’ve laid out.

The author may not take all your suggestions, but at least you’ve done your job by providing giving them a good foundation for their revisions. Once you’ve sent them your notes, let it go and trust the author to do what they believe is best for their story.

 


 

You can download a pdf copy of Duties of a Beta Reader and the pdf template of the Beta Reader Checklist for your own use. If you find them useful, please share with the links with other authors.

What to Include in Your Author Newsletter

What are you putting in your newsletter to prompt clicks to your site? If you’re only including things that fans have already been exposed to via your social media accounts, you’re missing out on the opportunity to generate traffic to your site.

Your newsletter can’t be just about selling your book(s). You have to give readers a reason to engage. In preparation for my own newsletter launch, I took notes on the ways other authors have mentioned to get readers clicking though to their site instead of just scanning the newsletters. Maybe there’s something on this list that will help generate more traffic for you …

Ways to Engage

  • Polls (re: titles, character names, locations, future projects, etc.)
  • A peek at your world-building
  • Character interviews
  • Cut scenes from your book
  • Sample chapters of your book
  • Samples chapters of another author’s book
  • Asking the readers personal questions
  • Asking them to send photos related to topic of newsletter
  • Giveaways (gift cards, freebies)
  • Swag give-aways (post cards, book marks, magnets, key chains)
  • Flash stories/vignettes on your site
  • Discounts on another author’s book
  • A chance to win a beta read or critique of their story
  • Adding only the beginning of an article with a “Read More” link to your site
  • Book related art (ie. wall paper) and coloring pages they can download
  • A chance to win video chat with you
  • Video updates / behind the scenes
  • You reading the first chapter of your book
  • Photos of an event or activity (besides what you’ve posted on social media

Remember: The point is to get readers to open your email and click through to your site. Mention in your newsletter that you are doing/offering something and include a link to your site they can follow to participate.

What do you do with your newsletter to generate reader activity? Let me know in the comments!!

Don’t Skimp on the Meat

Father’s Day is coming up and I want to share something important I learned from my dad:

Don’t skimp on the meat.

I remember the conversation between my parents when my dad said those words. I thought it was a silly argument at the time. My dad was a miner. He worked long, hard hours in a dangerous situation to keep a roof over our head, food on our table, and the bills paid. One of the few things he asked for in return was that my mother not skimp on the meat in his sandwiches. I remember him saying:

“I don’t want to be filled up with bread. I want a lunch I can enjoy and will keep me going until the end of my shift.”

That’s how my dad lives his life. He busts his butt to get a job done. Any job. Every job. He doesn’t slack. He doesn’t skimp on what he gives others. In return he wants lunch meat piled high on his sandwich. He wants dinner to include a decent-size hunk of meat.

As an adult, I look back and see that he takes that philosophy into other aspects of his life as well. He doesn’t skimp on meat of his life, so to speak. He enjoys his recreational time. He makes sure there’s something to enjoy on his vacation, during his family time, and in his home. He doesn’t skimp, but he’s smart about it. He doesn’t go overboard or put himself in debt to enjoy life. He simply refuses to skimp. Those are things  I equate to being wealthy – in all aspects of life.

I picked up that habit to a certain degree. I like my sandwiches with a lot of meat and when I make sandwiches for other people I don’t skimp on the meat. But unlike my dad, I have not made that philosophy a concrete part of the other aspects of my life. Particularly now that I have children. I skimp on my “Me Time”. I skimp on time with the kids.

I’m a single parent trying to earn an income as a writer so I can stay home to raise them. That’s a big responsibility I take seriously and I bust my butt every day working towards that goal. It’s easy to skimp on the meat in this situation. And that’s not fair to myself or my children.

Are there areas of your life where you been skimping on the meat? They are all important, otherwise what’s the point of working so dang hard? How do we get back on track so that we can enjoy those aspects?

… First, I’m going to make a sandwich. A big one with lots of meat. Then, I’m going to plop down on the sofa and spend time with my kids. I’ll tackle the rest one thing a time <3

Never Send an Angel – Updated!

I’m thrilled to announce the re-release of my supernatural short, Never Send an Angel.

Updated content, an exciting new cover, and a sneak peek at my upcoming Young Adult Adventure, Eyes of the Hunter.

 

Never send an angel to do a mother’s job.

When someone threatens her child’s safety, this mother will call down the powers of Light and step into the Shadow to make a child killer pay.