The Search for Beta Readers Begins

I’m pleased to announce that my second novel, Straight River, the prequel to Castle Danger, is nearing completion of the first revised draft. As a result, I’m looking for volunteer Beta Readers.

I wrote this book, tentatively titled Straight River, a few years before completing Castle Danger. To my credit, I sensed it wasn’t ready for publication. My revisions are intended to bring it up to at least the standards set by Castle Danger, if not higher.

Cropped cover of CD

If you are interested in becoming a Beta Reader for Straight River, please let me know by leaving a comment at the bottom of this post or sending me an email at


What is a Beta Reader?

 For those unfamiliar with the term, Beta Readers are similar to beta testers for computer software applications. Fiction beta readers read the book in its entirety and make comments or suggestions that help the author improve the book in myriad ways. Beta readers might catch a continuity flub, awkward or confusing prose, clunky dialogue, or too much or the wrong kind of details. Additional criticisms might be slow or boring scenes, flaws in the plot, or characters that don’t resonate. The most important contributions a beta reader will make are valid suggestions that will improve the manuscript.

If you’ve ever written a critique of someone’s writing or reviewed a book, movie, recording, or play, you’ve beta read. Beta readers point out a book’s flaws, but also suggest how to eliminate those flaws.

What’s the Beta Reading Process?

If you sign up to beta read and are asked to participate, I will send you the first three or four chapters of the manuscript. After reading that excerpt, you’ll have an idea of what you’re getting into. If you subsequently decide that critiquing Straight River is not your cup of tea, simply tell me. I’ll contact the next person on my beta reader list.

I will also send along a detailed questionnaire that you may use as a guide to your responses. The simplest way to participate is to track the questionnaire and put in your responses as you go. Beta Readers will also be free to write a summary of their overall thoughts as well.

I prefer inline comments such as are available with Microsoft Office’s Word program, but betas are free to critique and comment any way they choose. I’ll send my chosen Beta Readers a Word.docx of Straight River. They will be free to convert it to a PDF and read it on the e-reader of their choice. (I might be able to do that for you if you aren’t able to figure it out yourself. I did it once, a few years ago, and think I can figure out how to do it again.)

the Logistics

The preliminary timetable I envision is that copies of Straight River will be emailed to Beta Readers by mid-to-late September. I would like their completed commentaries/reviews/suggestions within 30 days of their receipt of the manuscript.

After that, I’ll make necessary changes, submit to an editor and proofreader for finalization, and start the publishing process. If all goes smoothly, I hope to have Straight River available for purchase early in 2017. If my Beta Readers overload me with negative feedback, then it’s back to the drawing board.

Still Not Convinced?

If Straight River is officially published, each successful Beta Reader will be mentioned in the “Acknowledgments” page of the finished book. “Successful” means those who complete their read and submit their critiques to me on time. Best of all, each Beta Reader will also receive a free print copy of the book.

So once again, if you are interested in being a Beta Reader for my suspense novel Straight River–the prequel to Castle Dangersign up now. Also, tell any of your friends who may be interested in participating. Beta readers who successfully read my “final draft” of Castle Danger will be given the right of first refusal. I look forward to hearing from you. Thanks.


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