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 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RSCy9t9kE54 for her video titled;

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Beta Readers

also see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JMMyttS_YUk

titled;

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;

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.

Miscellaneous;
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

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