Wanted! Alpha and Beta Readers

I have a deep need for more readers for works in progress. If anyone out there has a little time on their hands–it needn’t be much–a good background in fantasy/sf/horror fiction and doesn’t mind occasional erotica, and has some experience and/or natural talent for critiquing, I need you! Compensation is available.

First let’s talk about the difference between alpha and beta readers (and I’ll mention proofreaders too). Other writers’ definitions may be different, but here are mine.

Alpha readers take a look at the piece while I’m working on it. The risk here is that it might die on me, and never be finished, so you might never find out what happens. In addition, alpha readers need to be less critical and more appreciative–yet truthful. This means I need someone for whom my work really clicks. I need immediate emotional reactions, what made you laugh, what made you shocked, what made you react in any way. So the focus is on turns of phrase and positive reinforcement. I need this badly because it’s what keeps me working on the piece, a constant stream of ‘I want more!’

Beta readers get the piece when it’s finished. It might well be of novel length; I have this problem with almost never writing short stories. What I consider a short story is usually on the close order of 25K words. From a beta reader I need a serious critique, with an overall view, positive impressions, negative impressions, and detailed remarks scribbled on the page.

Neither one needs to concentrate overmuch on typos, grammar, punctuation or spelling. That’s for proofreaders, and I’m adequately supplied with those. If you see something obvious, feel free to mark it, but no need to go word by word and check spelling or anything.

Now let’s talk about compensation. There are two possibilities.

1. Critiques in return. I give really, really good critiques. Most people say they’ve learned a lot when I’ve done one for them. And one thing you get is volume. I may have mentioned I’m not good at short stories–I’m not good at brevity in general. Frequently my critique has been longer than the actual story. And I do know how to phrase things tactfully, yet give all the information. I will spare your feelings in terms of the way I phrase things, but not in terms of how much constructive criticism I offer. Try me out with a sample before we come to an agreement. I’ll be trying you out the same way.

2. Actual cash. The only way I can do this is to offer you a small percentage of what I make if the piece actually sells. Say, 5 percent of any advance I might get, through Paypal most likely. I have only two published pieces at present, so you may consider that to be a very long shot. If a publisher pays in copies, I suppose you’d get a copy. And some places don’t pay anything. But in the long run, if we make a good team, that might be the way to go. I guess it depends on how much faith you have in my abilities, once you get to know my work.

How to get this started: contact me via a comment on this post, if you’re interested. We’ll talk about which mode of compensation you’re interested in. We’ll exchange pieces and do a critique on each other’s work, and see how it goes from there.

Thanks for considering this! I really could use your help. 🙂


11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Critiques - Part Three - Resources « Kathleen Brandt
  2. MorvaShepley
    Sep 02, 2008 @ 20:38:31


    If you are still interested in readers for your work, it’s possible I could help. I’ve been doing some critting in Critters Writers Workshop, and at times I think I’m getting the hang of it.

    As for compensation, it would probably be most useful for me to be critted myself. (Words like critting and critted are not real, I know, but the workshop has got me using them as a shorthand.)

    As a matter of curiosity, there are a number of online writers workshops around so have you considered using them?


  3. asherose
    Sep 03, 2008 @ 08:34:20

    Yes… the main problem with online workshops (and I approve highly of Critters, I was with them for a while) is that they are primarily oriented toward short stories. Also, for whatever reason, I seem to fall out of interest in them after a while, especially if I’m not producing anything myself. What I need is a relationship with someone who is able to wait between pieces without kicking me off the list, and who has a strong, ongoing understanding of my work in particular.

    I will write to you if possible… thanks for being interested 🙂


  4. Lee
    Oct 12, 2008 @ 19:39:33

    Hi there. I would be interesting in helping you out with critiques. Alpha or Beta, though I am leaning towards Alpha since I think that’s something I would be interested in as compensation. I’ve been writing for some time – attempting to finish various novels without success. Most of the time I think I lose interest because I don’t have that constant “give me more” feeling as you mentioned in your post. My confidence starts to wane, depression sets in, and suddenly my characters die on me. 🙂 So, if you’d like to form a little online writing friendship and exchange work I would be willing.

    As for my critique style: I think I am extremely tactful without sugar coating it. Probably very much like yourself if I read your post correctly. I’ve been to art school so I can take constructive crit as well as dish it. I will admit that I am not a “trained” writer (as in my education ends at college creative writing courses) though I feel I have a pretty good grasp on the English language and grammar in general.

    So let me know if you’re still interested and good luck in November.

  5. asherose
    Oct 13, 2008 @ 12:28:39

    It sounds good, I will write back to you. Thanks! 🙂

  6. Susan Huffman
    Oct 18, 2008 @ 14:26:58

    I would be more than happy to alpha or beta read for you if you are still looking for someone. I am an avid sci/fi, fantasy reader. I’ve read Robert Jordan, Brandon Sanderson, Jacqueline Carey, and David Farland to name a few of my favorites. I am curently rereading Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel series. I’m not a writer, so in regards to compensation would be looking for more of option number 2, but am looking at resume items as I am interested in freelance reading or acquisition editing in the future. Let me know and good luck!

  7. asherose
    Oct 19, 2008 @ 07:48:49

    Excellent. I will send you a mail. 🙂

  8. Amy Zook
    Oct 24, 2008 @ 19:31:13

    If you’re looking for more readers, I’d love to help. I’m a big sci-fi/fantasy/romance reader (and a gigantic Doctor Who fan – sorry, couldn’t help noticing that on your about page). What I’ve seen of your work looks really good, so I’d consider it a privilege to be able to help.

    Either alpha or beta (or both) is great. Let me know what you need!

  9. james "dale" killingsworth
    Nov 01, 2008 @ 05:26:38

    I want more. cu dale

  10. asherose
    Nov 01, 2008 @ 11:14:04

    More what? 🙂

  11. Lee
    Dec 14, 2008 @ 18:03:16

    If you’re still looking for readers I have a finished draft that I would be eager to swap. Let me know and I’ll send some more info. Best of luck.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: