Tag Archives: books

Beta Reader Team: Assemble!

header-beta-reader-team | I Am Rosa

 (Or, “How I Found My Beta Team”)

 

My latest book, Eyes of the Hunter is currently in the hands of a wonderful team of beta readers. Even though they’re still reading, I’ve already received some very constructive feedback.  I’m thrilled!!

Today, I received this question from a fellow author:

May I ask how you got a team of beta readers? Because when I tried to get people to read my book before it was published no one was interested!

The short answer is:

I do my homework and am picky about who I ask.

The long answer:

I try to approach people who I know have beta read in the past, are interested in the genre of my book, have a good eye for detail, and have given solid feedback (to myself or others) in the past.

 

5 people agreed to beta read Eyes of the Hunter. Here is how I chose each one …

 

Beta Reader 1

This lady actually found me. She’d read a review I was under attack for writing, loved how honest and fair I’d been, and tracked me down on Facebook to ask if I would review her fantasy novel. I agreed, but couldn’t make it through the book. So, instead of writing a review, I asked if I could just give her suggestions on improvements. She agreed. She made the changes. She got picked up by a publisher (I’m not taking credit for that, btw) and has just release the sequel.

We kept in touch. When I see a snippet or article she’s written, I read it and comment. She’s improved. A lot. She’s serious and dedicated, so I continue to support her. And, she also freelances as an editor. So, when it came time to assemble beta readers, I asked if she’d be interested. She said, “Yes.”

 

Beta Reader 2

Amusingly enough, I found this lady exactly the same way Beta Reader 1 found me! She was being attacked by another author for the honest review she wrote on GoodReads in exchange for an ARC. Curious, I read the review. It was actually a very fair review, praising the author’s writing skill, but pointing out there were issues with the story that didn’t sit well with her. She didn’t finish reading, so she marked it DNF (Did Not Finish) to make sure it wouldn’t hurt the author’s rating. I sent her a message, apologizing on behalf of authors who aren’t dicks, and told her that I really liked how honest and fair she’d been. Since I knew from her GoodReads profile that she liked stories similar to Eyes of the Hunter, I asked if she’d be interested in beta reading it and gave a her brief description. She agreed.

 

Beta Reader 3

About a year ago, a lady in one of the Facebook writing groups I’m part of asked if someone could do some artwork for her. I was interested in what she wanted done and offered my services. I really liked her honesty in comments and noticed she always had great suggestions. So, instead of cash payment, I asked if she’d be interested in beta reading for me. I gave her a brief description of Eyes of the Hunter. She liked the story idea and had read some of my other writing, so she felt confident that she’d enjoy this and agreed.

 

Beta Reader 4

This one, I can thank Beta Reader 1 for. She’d talked me up to this gentleman and I apparently made a good impression in the Facebook groups we were part of. We chatted back and forth on Facebook for months. When he found out I was almost ready to hand off Eyes of the Hunter to beta readers, he expressed an interest in reading it. From our conversations, I knew he’s very honest about his opinions and he has a great eye for detail. Even though the story is aimed for YA female readers, I thought a male opinion would be beneficial. So, I asked if he’d go one further and beta read it for me. He said yes and  offered some amazingly helpful insights.

 

Beta Reader 5

I met this lady through – you guessed it – a Facebook writing group. She sent me a friend request after we’d exchanged comments in the group. I had a favourable opinion of her; plainspoken and insightful. I accepted though we never actually chatted after that … until I saw a status update from her one night as I was about to shut down my computer for the night. She seemed to be in distress and I was worried that she was suicidal. Facebook had just implemented its suicide prevention feature, which was totally useless. So, I sent her a message which led to a conversation that lasted several hours (until I felt satisfied that she wasn’t going to do anything harmful to herself). Being writers, we naturally talked about books and writing. I told her a bit about Eyes of the Hunter and it was apparently up her alley of interest. She told me that she beta reads, critiques, and reviews. So, I asked if she’d like to beta read it for me and she said, “yes.”

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And, there you have it: My amazing beta team for Eyes of the Hunter <3

Finding quality beta readers is a long process:

  • I observe the feedback a person gives to others and what they contribute to conversations in groups.
  • I build a sincere rapport with them. (Note the word sincere. I care about these people and they care about me.)
  • I find out if beta reading is something they’re interested in and what genres they prefer.
  • When I ask them to beta read, I give them just enough detail about the story to hook them, but not enough to ruin the fun.

Some people I asked were swamped with other projects or felt the story was not quite to their interests. No problem! I’ve asked enough people that a couple of “no’s” still leaves me with a fair size group for feedback. Plus if anyone has something come up where they can’t follow through, I wouldn’t be stranded for feedback.


Want to know what guidelines I give my beta readers?
Read my follow-up article, Beta Reader Checklist for Useful Feedback.

Dear Author Who Got a Bad Review…

dear author - bad review | I Am Rosa

I actively support fellow authors … for the most part.  Recently, a fellow author brought to light – or rather, she created a drama about – something that touched on several topics we, as writers deal with almost daily, including the dreaded “bad review”.

This particular author got a review on GoodReads marked DNF (Did Not Finish) and complained about it in a few writing groups we’re both part. Normally, I’d link to the review so you can read it for yourself, but I’m trying to be classy and protect the author by keeping her name, book title, and any description of the contents of her book private so she’s not publicly embarrassed anymore than she has been by her own unprofessional behaviour.

Review 01 | I Am Rosa

Reading the review in question, a few really important things jumped out at me:

1. The author gave this lady an advanced copy of her book and asked for an honest review to be posted publicly.

2. It wasn’t a negative review. The reviewer had an issue with some of the events in the book that made her lose interest. She simply left her personal opinion as to why she couldn’t bring herself to finish it. (Note: I personally couldn’t finish another book by this author. When she had the female lead gang-raped, I had to skip past that chunk of the book. However, when that character then decided she needed to screw the next handsome, dangerous dude she came across mere hours after being raped, I was done. Period. I couldn’t open the book without feeling sick.)

3. By marking the book as DNF (Did Not Finish), the reviewer was actually protecting the author’s rating score.

4. The reviewer praised the things she liked about it, saying things like, “The story was original, and writing was really nice”.

Review 02 | I Am Rosa

As both an author and a reviewer, I can confidently say: This lady is really good reviewer and gave a reasonable, objective review. She shared her opinion and commended things about a book she didn’t like. Plus, she pointed out the good things she found, leaving it to the reader to decide if this was a book they wanted to take on. I was impressed. Personally, this is the balance and class I strive for when I write a review for something I didn’t enjoy.

The author, on the other hand, was neither classy nor fair in her response. She could have done one of two professional things at this point:

  • Be gracious and thank the reviewer for her time and thoughts, then move on; or
  • Ignore the review and focus on the positive reviews she received.

Instead, the author made a public deal about what was, in her opinion, a “bad” review, calling the reviewer a “f*ckwit” and “c*nt”.

This, of course, inspired her friends and followers to demean the reviewer’s opinion, mock her comprehension of and ability to writing in English (which is not her first language), and question her validity to write reviews – both in the groups and, to my horror, directly to the lady in the comment section of her review.

1st post 01 | I Am Rosa

Part of my horror is because, as an author, I would never abuse my readers like this. Without readers – even those that don’t dig what I write – I could not be a professional author. I’d be a hobbyist, scribbling thoughts to myself.  As a reviewer, I’ve been under public attack much like this lady has been.

So to this fellow author and those who will undoubtedly be in her shoes at one point:

Don’t be a dick to the courageous few readers that actually leave you a review.

Don’t like the review? Tough nuggets. Writing, like every other art, is subjective. Not everyone has the same tastes. Write to the best of your ability and learn from the feedback you get.  If you’re too thin-skinned to handle bad reviews, either get a job where your tender soul isn’t exposed to the vicious teeth of critics or have someone else read them and give you an author-friendly version.

Author Raphael Merriman summed it perfect in his reply to this post:

A review is just one person's opinion of your work, but your response to that review is an indication of your personality and character.

FriendDay Wednesday: Travis Martin @ Binding Principles [Part 2]

Journal from Travis Martin | I Am Rosa

 

A few months ago, I featured Travis Martin and his handmade journals for ‪#‎FriendDayWednesday. Since then, I’ve ordered a journal from him and –

 

ZOMG!

 

It’s absolutely beautiful!! You can see the care Travis puts in every detail from the leather cover to the stitching. (Click the photos to see larger images with great details.)

 

 

Keychain from Travis Martin | I Am Rosa

 

 

Travis also offers adorable light-weight pendants, earrings, and key chains, as well as custom binding if you have something you’d like him to help you create. ‬Each creation is loving crafted with a unique theme for a one-of-a-kind gift (for yourself or someone else).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check out what Travis currently has available or get in touch with him at his Esty shop, Binding Principles.

Items from Travis Martin | I Am Rosa