Beta reading

What is a beta reader?

A beta reader is an individual who reads your manuscript or unpublished book from the perspective of a reader, not that of an editor. This means that it is not a beta reader’s role to examine the text for specific grammatical or typographical errors. Rather, beta reading entails critically analyzing the content (plot, character development, world-building, pacing, etc.) and overall execution of your work. Afterward, a beta reader will then offer constructive criticism regarding the elements of the story, point out plot inconsistencies, and provide suggestions for improvement.

Why should you hire one?

All writers and aspiring authors need a beta reader — this is a universal truth in the entire writing process. Oftentimes, writers struggle with keeping perspective on their own work. There is a tendency for writers to become too enthralled with their subject, without considering general interest and/or reader response. This is where the usefulness of a beta reader comes into play. A beta reader offers an outsider’s insight and an additional pair of eyes that can not only assist you in getting back on track but also identify issues, inconsistencies, and holes you might have missed.

Why should you hire me?

If you’re going to hire a beta reader, why should you hand this opportunity to a girl with a blog called That Bookshelf Bitch? Why should you hire me?

1. First and foremost, I am a massive reader as well as a writer. As a reader, I’ve gone through an extensive collection of books that fall under various genres. As a fellow writer, I completely understand how daunting it is to have an outsider handle your literary baby. Rest assured, I will always respect you, your work and your voice as an author.

2. I review books and ARCs. Truth be told, I’ve been commended by a number of authors for my “refreshingly edgy” voice and straightforward commentary. My reading experience has allowed me to be able to differentiate what works for a story and what does not, and as a book reviewer, I am not afraid to point these out and to say things the way I see them. My complete honesty is guaranteed. Additionally, my book reviews are typically comprehensive and detail-oriented as I prefer to be thorough when voicing my opinion.

3. I am professional. I am not a professional, but I do work as professionally as I can. There’s a fine line between being blunt and being outright disrespectful, and I always make sure that I never cross that boundary. All my criticism will be delivered in a tactful, constructive manner. Moreover, I understand my place as your beta reader, meaning I know that I am not in the position to demand you to follow through with my suggestions or to rewrite your work for you.

4. Should you decide to hire me, my priority will always be you. Before actually working on your manuscript, I will first ask you for a list of your objectives and a quick breakdown of what you specifically want. Should there be any specific areas or story elements that you’d want me to scrutinize more thoroughly, I will definitely do so.

5. My beta reading services are similar to developmental editing.

“A developmental editor is someone who can take a ‘helicopter’ view of your entire piece of writing and give you a specific sense of what’s working, what’s not, and in some cases come up with solutions.” – Strawberry Saroyan [Source]

6. Once your manuscript is officially published, I am more than willing to help you in marketing your work. Should you want me to, that is. This includes, but is not limited to, the following:
– Promoting your book via Twitter
– Featuring both you and your book on my blog (upon your request)
– Giving away ARCs and/or finished copies of your book on my blog

What manuscripts do I accept?

In terms of genre, I will only accept New Adult, Young Adult and Middle Grade novels and novellas. My preferred sub-genres are contemporary romance, dystopian, fantasy, paranormal romance, realistic fiction, and science fiction. I am still open to other sub-genres. I will not, however, accept horror, historical, religion/spirituality, erotica, poetry and non-fiction as I don’t think I’m equipped to provide substantial feedback regarding these genres.

Furthermore, for the time being, I will only work with digital manuscripts — preferably those in .epub, .mobi or MS Word. Physical manuscripts will not be entertained out of personal preference and so as to minimize the risk of delivery mishaps (e.g. damages, losses, delays).

As a beta reader, what can you expect from me?

My beta reading package comes with the following:

  • Chapter by chapter commentary and breakdown (upon the author’s request)
  • Comment/track changes in MS Word and/or comments/highlights in .epub/.mobi manuscripts
  • MS Word compilation of more specific inputs, comments, suggestions and possible improvisations
  • Summarized critique (character development, plot, writing style, and reading impact) of your work similar to that of any full-length review I’ve written
  • SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis of manuscript
  • Copy of additional notes (should I have any)

Basically, what you can expect from me are clear, understandable edits, specific solutions, creative input and genuine respect for your writing.

What will I not do?

1. I will not act as a copy editor. Meaning, I will not proofread your work and actively seek out grammatical and/or typographical errors. Should I notice any, I will, however, point them out.

2. While my feedback may include suggested new language for narrative, dialogue and visual description, I will not rewrite your work or function as a ghostwriter.

3. I will not publicize or publicly post my criticism online. All my feedback will strictly remain confidential between you and me.

How much will it cost?

The charge for my beta reading service is 50 cents per 250 words or simply, $2 (USD) for every 1,000 words. For instance, if your novel is exactly 50,000 words in length, the cost will amount to $100. If the word count of your work is, say, 50,758 words, then you will be charged with a fee of $101.50.

What are my guidelines?

  • Depending on my academic workload and schedule, beta reading your work will take approximately 10 to 14 days. Should you require a specific deadline, that will cost an additional $5 (USD). Should you need your manuscript returned in four days or less, a rush fee of $15 (USD) will be charged (additional $5 deadline fee already included).
  • In the event that you want me to work on another edition or a revised draft of your manuscript, that will incur a separate charge from the first manuscript you gave me, and you will be given a word count-based discount of 5% for the succeeding versions of your work. For instance, after I return your initial manuscript (which you already paid for), you decide to greatly revise or rewrite your story. Let’s say, the revised version of your story is 70,000 words long. Instead of charging you $140 for the newer edition, the cost will only amount to $133 because of the discount.
  • All payments will be made through PayPal only.
  • Should you want to submit your work for my beta reading service, kindly include the following details in your email:
    – genre(s)
    – synopsis
    – the exact word count
    – deadline (should there be one)
    – what you’re looking for in a beta reader

Are you interested?

Have I successfully convinced you to give me a shot? Then hire me as your beta reader and let me dote on your manuscript the way it deserves! Contact me via shealeairal@gmail.com with the subject “Beta Reading: [Title of your work]”. If you have any other additional questions or inquiries, you can send a quick email as well. Thank you!