Beta Readers, Another Perspective

I recently read a blog about Beta Readers from writer G. D. Leon. He agreed and differed from Jenna Moreci on points about Beta Readers.

The blog is at

Mr. Leon divided his readers into Alpha Readers and Beta Readers. Granted he only had two Alpha readers. To him an Alpha reader is the first person to read the story. The first people to read my stories are those in the writing group I belong to. Which contains my biggest fan. You want to catch flack, disappoint your biggest fan.

I have found two early Beta Readers and I’m going to promote them to Alpha Readers. There may be no money involved but a name can mean something. How many Alpha Readers do you know?

Mr. Leon talked about using Beta Readers to lessen the work an editor would have to do. I would never send a half finished manuscript to an editor. I go over and over any manuscript I send to anyone. That does not mean there are not mistakes, silly mistakes, stupid mistakes in the manuscripts that I give to others. But I try to give my best work out. As much as I pay an editor and as much as I ‘m thinking about paying my next editor, I’m sending her a good manuscript, the best manuscript I can make, but I’m not doing it to make it easy for her.

He uses a three step process, send to Alpha readers then fix problems, send to Beta Readers then fix problems, then a trusted writer for a finial beta read followed with more fixing.

He uses Beta Readers for different reviews, edits and marketing. Give them tasks for different things they may be good at. He stresses talking to Beta Reader before they start and he gives them a hard deadline.

He did stress that if Beta Reader finds something, he checks his ego at door.

He uses Facebook to find Beta Readers. He looks for new writers on Facebook to be Beta Readers.

He mentioned using Fiverr for a paid review that cost him $50.00. I think that is high. I’m working with an editor for having a comprehensive edit done. It could cost me $1500.00. I don’t have the money to pay for Beta Readers.

I would have like Mr. Leon to list some of the questions he asks his Beta Readers. Also the questions he asks potential readers to find out if they are the editor types, the contents types, or the marketing types. those would have been useful questions to have.

Stay strong, write on.                  Professor Hyram Voltage


You know you’re a writer when

Today it was not raining, the temperature was above 56 degrees and it was sunny. Hey this is Southern California and anything below 55 degrees is cold. Especially with the wind off the ocean.

I had yards to mow. The back yard needed cleaning. The flower pots are full of weeds. Junk needs to be thrown away. The piles of paper work are piled so high that some of it keeps sliding off and onto the floor.

I sat at the computer and worked on the ending of my script. I worked hard, it not easy to get the climax right and wrap up a script. I ran out of the correct color of 3 by 5 note cards for the scene I was writing, but I kept writing. I’m sitting at the computer and writing with pen and pencil on paper. The pen ran out of ink so I grabbed a pencil. The sun I hadn’t seen in days was calling, I kept writing.

That’s when you know you’re a writer.

After the second draft of the script ending I did go out and mow the yards and pick up the trash. I cleaned up a spill in the back yard. I emptied the wheel barrow of rain water. And dozen of other little jobs. I also worked on the 30 foot long antenna I’m building. Had to run to the hardware store for plastic pipe glue.

But I wrote first.

In other news. I got the edit and limited rewrite of the second book finished. Still looking for Beta Readers and an Editor.

I will be posting the first chapter of the second book soon. I’m failing in my quest to be a humor writer. The first chapter of the second book has more killings. Stay tuned.

Stay strong, write on.          Professor Hyram Voltage

Beta Readers, Great to Have but Hard to Get

I’m looking for Beta Readers and I stumbled across Jenna Moreci’s Youtube videos about how she finds Beta Readers and how she works with them. See for her video titled;

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Beta Readers

also see


Getting the Most Out of Your Beta Readers

I tried implementing her process and it just isn’t working. It may be a guy thing where guys want to go off into their cave read your (whole) book and maybe get back to you. Jenna stresses that she wants to talk to the Beta Reader as soon as they finished the part of the story she has sent them. She doesn’t want time to cloud the Beta Readers reaction to the story or to give the reader time to chicken out.  It works for her. She’s much more persuasive than I am.

Below are my notes from her video. Also, talk to me. What are your experience with Beta Readers? How do you handle Beta Readers? Feedback welcome anytime.


Notes on Beta Readers – finding and using them
Form YouTube video; Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Beta Readers by Jenna Moreci.

Have a process (She’s a business major);
Have a solid idea of what you want from a Beta Reader. Have it written down. She wants more than just a read through or for them to give a thumbs up or down. Also Beta Reading is not looking for grammar errors or spelling errors. The reader is looking problems with the story, plot holes, inconsistencies, and other problems with the contents of the story.

How to recruit Beta Readers
She suggest FaceBook. There are other places.
Once you have a possible volunteer there are four steps to follow;
Step 1.
Send them an outline of what you want from a Beta Readers (see above).
A. Define the Genre, for the Beta Reader. Let them know what world the story is set in. Look for readers on that genre.
B. Inform them of the, Type of Story. Murder mystery, fantasy, science fiction.
C. Look for Beta Readers that are representative of your readers, buyers, audience.

Step 2. Inform the Beta Reader;
Let the Beta Readers know it’s an involved process.
Let them know you will interview them after they read a chapter. You want to interview them immediately after they have read the chapter.
Let them know interviews will be long. On the computer or the phone.
Step 3. Sent them a chapter;
Clean up the manuscript before they read it.
Tell Beta Readers that the manuscript has not been professionally edited.
Tell them to focus on story.

Dole it out in a controlled way;
Send out one chapter, at a time. Don’t send next chapter till you get feedback form the one before.
Let them know that you need to interview them directly after they finish the chapter. Set time to have reading done. Make sure they understand they should let you know when they plan to read the chapter and that they will be ready for an interview right afterwards.
Step 4. Talk to your Readers promptly;
The interview.
Sometimes the Beta Reader will tell her when (date/time) they will read the chapter. They should agree that time is good so she can call them right after they have read the chapter. It’s important that interview is right after the reader has read the chapter.
Interview can be over computer or over the phone.

Have a List of Questions to ask. Ask the same questions to each interviewer (interviewee or Reader). Include the following;
A. What are your initial thoughts and reactions after reading the chapter.
B. What was the favorite scene and why did you like it?
C. What was the least favorite scene and why?
D. What are your thoughts on the protagonist?

After these four questions you have to ask about every scene, every character in the chapter.
Check to see if characters came across as you intended.
Do the scenes make sense?
Check to make sure they, the Beta Reader truly understand what’s going on.

Remember to make sure that the Beta Readers understand that “I don’t know” and “I don’t remember” are perfectly acceptable answers, but they should have opinions most of the time.

At the end of the interview ask;
1. Were any of the parts confusing or unclear?
2. On a scale of 1 to 10 how much did you enjoy the chapter?
3. On a scale of 1 to 10 how eager are you to read the next chapter? If not why?
4. Do you have any predictions? (Especially if there is a surprise ending, can they guess it?).

Be professional;
If the Beta Reader does not get it, you the writer must be cool, clam and collected (causal). Don’t blow up at the Beta Reader. You will get better responses from Beta Readers if they know you will take the bad without getting angry.

Be proactive;
Dump crappy Beta Readers. If they don’t get chapter read in a timely manner. If they don’t give good feedback, or they don’t give detailed feedback.


After the interview, don’t throw away your hard work;
Analyze the data you collected from all the readers.
Compare comments with one another.
If more than 50 percent of the Beta Readers agree that something is wrong or doesn’t work you the writer have a problem and have to fix it.
Check how many Beta Readers did not like the protagonist?
Are men enjoying the manuscript more than the women? Is your target audience male? If not you have a problem.

General questions for whole book;
From questions about character in the chapter reviews, did younger people enjoy the book more than the older readers? (you got to get age range of reader, I find that is not easy to do).
Ask Beta Readers to list favorite characters. The Protagonist had better be one of the favorites.
Ask Beta Readers to list least favorite characters. The Antagonist had better be on this list.
Ask which scenes are bad in chapter reviews. How many reviewer agree that one scene is bad.
Ask if there are plot holes in a chapter and in the book. How many reviewers agree.
Ask if story was predictable.
Ask if story was confusing.
Did chapters end on a note so that readers were eager to read more.
Was story entertaining.

She recommends having more than 20 Beta Readers

Stay strong, write on.                 Professor Hyram Voltage

Why so few Engineers are writers

Engineers are solitary creatures. Preferring to work by themselves. So it would seem that they would be perfect for being writers.

The problem is working with others. The term “Engineering Team” is an oxymoron. An engineer is trained to take a big problem and break it into small solvable pieces. There is no team in, break into small pieces. They beak the problem up, then each member of the team goes off by themselves and works on their part of the problem. This leads to difficulties when they go to bolt the project together they find one engineer used course threaded nuts and bolts and he must attach his part to a part that another engineer used fine threaded nuts and bolts on. The third engineer used SAE threaded nuts and bolts on his part and the fourth engineer used metric threaded nuts and bolts. They were all too busy making their parts to read the contract that stated they were to use Whitworth threads.

They were trained to do their homework alone, with no coping from others. Work is just like homework and writing a book is work. That’s why so many people never finish writing a book. It’s to much like homework (and for so many pays about the same).

Now imagine them in a critique group. Imagine an engineer trying to manage a group of 20 or more Beta Readers while remaining an engineer and not becoming a pointed haired boss. Imagine an engineer with two books on English grammar and they disagree with each other. It’s enough to make a logical engineer snap.

Stay strong, write on.        Professor Hyram Voltage

Digging The Line

Sung to the tune of Draggin’ the Line, Sewer line that is (sung to the tune of the theme song of the Beverly Hillbillies).

Fourteen feet doesn’t sound that long. It is if you have to crawl under a house, a long way under the house, and dig out fourteen feet of four inch, cast iron sewer line with a short handled shovel.

Things I do on my day off. It took, two of us, three days to finish the job. That cast iron pipe is heavy. Had to cut it into three pieces to drag it out from under the house.

It may have been dry under the house, but it was dirty. Had to wash several loads of clothes after we were done.

The plastic pipe we replaced the cast iron with was much lighter. Gluing is much easier than hammering lead between the joints of cast iron pipe like they did 60 years ago when they put the cast iron pipe in. It was a drain line so there was no risk of lead poisoning.

In a couple of places the cast iron pipe had rotted into a cast iron trough.

Stay strong, write on.    Professor Hyram Voltage