Monday, June 28, 2010

Choosing betas

This has been driving me nuts and I have to share it. I provided feedback for someone who was seeking a beta reader and who seemed excited and happy to have found one--me. We decided to test the waters and send the first five pages. I sent her mine; she sent me hers. I provided feedback. She provided feedback and I never heard from said person again. Soon after, I read on the online board that this person was recently doubtful of her work. Of course, I felt bad. Granted it may not have anything to do with my feedback, but my gut tells me differently. And so I waited and still no word. Again I looked at the board and she's looking for a beta partner. And so I'm wondering what happened.

Critiques hurt at first. I know this first hand, but I know the more feedback I'm given the more I know where to focus my efforts. It isn't that my beta knows how to fix what's wrong but that in their opinion something is off. It doesn't mean I have to change it because they said so, it means I need to pay special attention to it, make my decision, and move on. 

And so I pose this question to you--my partners in crime--what is it that you are looking for when you post your work, or when you are looking for betas? Do you tend to pair with the person who says wow your work is awesome just a tidy need of fixes? Or do you go with the person who tends to send you a 2,000 word critique on a chapter. Okay, maybe 2,000 is a bit much, but you know what I mean. I know that a balance is ideal. So if you had one more person to choose for your group which one would it be?


  1. Sounds like all she wanted was praise. That sort of crit is useless. I want hard crits!!! Tell me where the work is weak, or boring, or irritating. Tell me that my first chapter didn't pull you in, or that my ending fell flat. I NEED TO KNOW.

    Sure I'd like to know where it works, too. Praise is nice. But if I'm to sell my novel, I need to hear the truth.

    Hmm. I'd say you touched a sore spot. ;-)

  2. I agree with Deb. Sure you love the good but it is counter productive when you need honest feedback to correct mistakes that you can't see.

  3. It's hard to walk that careful line of providing useful feedback without treading on somebody's toes. I had an experience where I provided feedback on a manuscript for someone I'd worked with for quite some time. I didn't think this manuscript was up to the standard of his prior work -- and I said so. (I also gave him practical suggestions on how to fix it.) It didn't go over well, and I know he didn't take the feedback.

    From the opposite angle: I recently received feedback on MY manuscript, and it was feedback that surprised me and upset me. I cried. But then I tried to do what the person suggested as a fix -- struggled a little, realized it worked, saw the light, and produced a MUCH better manuscript.

    Bottom line = If the writer is not ready to hear it, no honest feedback is going to be useful.

    It wasn't you. It was her. She wasn't ready.

  4. I agree. I'd rather hear it before I submit to agents. For me finding betas is easier than finding a connection with someone I can value. I'm still looking for a nice balance. =-)

    This situation made me question myself and wonder if I should be honest. The answer. If I want others to be honest about my work I gotta be honest.

    Thanks for your comments!

    Hey Deb, if you need an extra pair of eyes I promise to be honest. Just shoot me an email. (LOL)

  5. When someone critiques my work I want to hear both the good and the bad. I never give a critique where all I do is trash someone's work. There's usually something the author is doing right and I try to point that out. Likewise both they and I need to know what's not working. Awkward phrases? Errors in punctuation? Spelling? Missed words? Choppy sentences? Dull description? Please tell me so I can fix it BEFORE it goes to an agent. Don't feel too badly.

  6. E, I so had my two cents worth but I think Dianne and Marcy have summed it up for me. We are all different, and we all receive and give critiques in our own ways. Sometimes compatibility isn't going to happen. No ones fault.

    Looking for in a crit partner:

    1. Honesty
    2. Commitment to me as I am to his/her work.
    3. A genuineness to help improve the manuscript or the writer in delivering the crit.

    For me, these are important.


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