For weeks now I've seeing this term Beta Reader, but not fully understanding what, who or why? Are these people qualified or just bloggers and reviewers who are offering to read a manuscript as another means to get a free book? Or are they paid? What makes a Beta Reader different from a proofreader or even an editor?
I thought that might be what Beta Readers were, but I wanted to be sure. Whereas I can appreciate the idea, I did something similar in a critique group with people I knew and I wasn't pleased by it. Not that they had anything wrong to say, just the perspectives where so different among the participants an author can't please everyone. I would have to trust these people and be certain they understood me and my story before handing over anything for that type of review again.
I don't believe in writing to satisfy people's opinion of what my story should be. I'll take a proofreader - which I already have 3 people I trust for that process.
Exactly - someone who does want anything from you and is willing to help unconditionally. The writer's group I belonged everyone seemed to be jockeying for the pole position and one upmanship - not a place to gained trusted input.
The reason a person is critiqued is to have a reader or 3, who is not their friend, give an honest objective and subjective opinion of the total work. Critiques should never be done by someone you are friends with or a family member. Their too prejudicial and it's unfair to the critique person who comes away feeling inadequate or a liar, if they didn't tell U the truth to avoid hurting your feelings.
Critiques are very good gauges for new writers and old, if done correctly, for a work you are having trouble with. It is a pre submission edit. It usually occurs with three or four authors or reviewers and you can't speak or comment. They basically give a synopsis of what the book is about and so on. You can even specify what you want critiqued that bothers you about your piece.
Beta readers do everything. I charge a fee. They edit, correct grammatical errors-proofread, and recommend/suggest an alternate way to "say something", and plot consistency. I did editing for a small press, and beta is harder, because you don't just tell someone to fix it you actually help them do it by rewriting suggestions.
From your last paragraph, that makes you a freelance editor, not a beta reader from what I've been gathering around the web.
And I disagree with your assessment that family and friends are too prejudicial. If anything, my family is MORE critical since I wrote the stories for my daughter and she has a particular interest in seeing them told correct. Not to mention my husband used to write scripts in Hollywood - we both did, so he knows story structure, etc. No, I more trust them than outsiders.
My experience with editors over the years has been horrible. And if I can't 'trust' someone, I don't want to work with them. This is where I see the flaw with beta readers and freelance editors - an issue of trust. Those I trust will help to make my story stronger and want me to do well, for freelance editors it's a job to them, they have no vested interested in me or my stories. Some might take pride in their work and do well, but even a professionally edited ms is no guarantee to land a contract.
Does this mean I ignore grammar and editing? No. I studied for years under an author with over 30 books in both CBA & ABA market before being published. And I still use trusted sets of eyes and knowledge to run the stories past.
That's your situation, and kudos to U for having "professional family members who can make your work stronger because they are in the field and have a vested interest." However, that is not the norm. Out here in the real world, we don't all have those options, and we didn't come from your background. Critiques are done to help authors not hurt them. Your contacts with other writers sound negative. Sorry but that's the way it comes across. I have had bad experiences too, with writers and copyright infringement and subtle ways of copying and stealing other peoples ideas.
Don't let it sour U, persevere move past it.
It's a matter of integrity, mine, that I do a great job. My profreading or editing is done for the sole purpose of making the authors work exceptional and accurate so they get published, and come back to use my services. If that's not vested interest than I don't know what is. Don't confuse the semantics with the actual work.
It reflects on me and the author when they put their work into my hands. Proofreader and editor are to different things entirely. The editor is all encompassing, as is a beta reader which is another form of editing. Freelance is a title that says I get paid and that is all I work independently, meaning I pay for my benefits. No value judgements go with the title. There's a very thin line between beta reader and editor. I know. I did both.
Not everything was bad although most of my bad experience were with in-house editors, not freelance. Nor have I let it sour me as I invested time, money and years of study to improve so I can do most things myself or at least be knowledgeable enough to avoid trouble. :) FYI -book 4 in the series is coming out in August so I am pressing forward.
I realize there are good, reputable editors, but I admit my experiences have made me leery and cautious and not ready to pay sight unseen or a hire any stranger with editing experience.
Just out of curiosity, do you provide examples of your work and references to an author beforehand?
Nurture has good beta readers starting with Bobbie McCoy. We are part of the review group and you can request a consult at a persons site or email/invite them or just ask one of us to do the beta read.
Critique partner's. Well critique partners are new to me. As I said, I understood a critique to be an independent objective and subjective summation of a work. The author doesn't comment. They take notes or they just sit and listen. I have seen two or more critiquers conference call or sit in a room with the author and each person critques the manuscript.
At the end of the critique, the author is free to give his/ her opinion or just take the advice and say nothing. Most times it's best to say nothing, get out of your blind spot and see what the readership will see-then make needed adjustments. Or if it was misread explain it.
I understand partners to be two people not close friends, impartial, but aquaintances who reciprocates by reading the others work before they publish.
Choose someone U think will be honest whose opinion U respect. You start to get a feel for the people U encounter in the groups, so when U find someone who is consistent and honest reach out and touch. The Bible says seek, knock, ask and you will find.
If I can help, let me know.