All the experts seem to agree that the best way to find a beta reader for a nearly finished novel manuscript is to ask for interested volunteers. So here I am, asking for your help.
My work in progress, a suspense novel I’ve titled “Castle Danger,” has reached the point where I’m seriously preparing to self-publish it. Before I send it to an editor, I would like at least three or four volunteers to read my latest draft (draft number FIVE, just so you know you’re not getting a bunch of first-draft rambling) and make big-picture observations for me on what they like and dislike about the story and characters, and where the weak points are.
I need people who will be honest and direct with me. I’m not looking for a cheerleading section–my mom has that covered all by herself. 🙂 I need honest critique on areas such as plot and structure, character development, readability, believability, style, story and character arcs, and a general overall comments such as “I loved it,” “I liked it,” “it was okay,” or “I couldn’t believe it took you five drafts to produce this dreck!”
I can’t offer payment for your time, but all beta readers will be mentioned in the acknowledgment section of the finished e-book and hard copy, and I will put you on the list for a free, signed copy of the paper version if and when I get this book to print. E-publishing will come first.
In addition, I will offer my beta reader services to you or a writer friend free of charge on a reciprocal basis. I’m willing to read almost anything, but prefer fiction genres such as mystery, thriller, suspense, crime, and historical fiction. I’m happy to read your literary fiction as well, but I don’t feel qualified to beta read poetry.
I’m not much of an authority on romance (although I’ve read some in the past, just not sure of what today’s readers are demanding). I’m also weak on science fiction and fantasy. My eyes tend to glaze over when I try to understand world-building and non-human characters or any powers and abilities not naturally endowed to humans.
I’m not up on what sells for children’s books, but will certainly take a shot at anything middle grade and higher.
For non-fiction, I’ll give you pretty good feedback on most topics except religion, self-help, psych, family, or chemical dependency memoirs or the like.
As far as appropriateness goes, I use garden variety swear words, there is some violence involving gunshots and a fire, and some sexual language and scenes of the PG-13 variety. Nothing too detailed or graphically explained. Nothing more intense or graphic than you’d find in a David Baldacci, Lee Child, or Dennis Lehane bestseller.
So if you or anyone you know is interested in helping out an aspiring novelist, please reply to either of my email addresses listed in the contact information section and we’ll discuss the particulars. The word count is about 94,000 words and I believe it reads quickly and easily (I don’t go in for florid prose in this genre). I expect most readers can read it in a total time of about 8-12 hours.
Most importantly, I’ll be happy to send you the first chapter or two for you to read before you commit so you can get an idea of my style and ability. I would only like initial commitments from people who can read and return their comments to me within 3-4 weeks of receiving the manuscript from me.
Thanks and I hope to hear from you soon.
(Images from clker.com and KadmeianLetters.wordpress.com, respectively)