What’s The Role of a BETA READER?

img_2351-19If I do my job properly as a writer, I have put together what in my head is a relatively cohesive, interesting story.*

That’s it. In a nutshell, that’s my job.

The role of a BETA READER is to:

read the finished manuscript (book, story, whatever) before it is released to the general public and give the author feedback.

That’s it.

The Beta can do as much or as little as they want, or as much or as little as the author asks.

Pretty blurry job description, isn’t it?

Yep.

Let’s go back to me and my job as a writer for a sec. Occasionally, I am wrong about the whole “cohesive story” thing. Sometimes we writers just write stuff that makes great sense to us – and no sense to anyone else.

Ooh, he’s so metaphysical.

Or, maybe he’s freaking obtuse.

It’s hard to tell sometimes. The old barn was a metaphor for the MC’s marriage, but the wrecked car wasn’t. Unless you want it to be, dear reader; then it absolutely was.

Assuming that we didn’t go completely bananas and write some fog of a diatribe, my critique partners will point out glaring errors in passive voice or grammar or missing words or missing quotes. That’s their job.

So when I’m done listening to what my Critique Partners have to say, I fold in their suggestions (or ignore them at my peril) and then I give the book one more look and decide it’s ready for the general public.

Typo!
Typo!

That’s where the beta reader comes in.

There’s nothing like sending your manuscript out to thousands of people and having them write back and say you had a typographical error in the first friggin’ page, or ask how the butler could do it when he wasn’t even present when the murder happened!

Oops.

The point is, your critique partners are really looking at your story a little differently from a regular reader. CPs will probably enjoy your story, but they are not reading it only to enjoy it. They are reading it to make sure it makes sense, to make sure that flows, to make sure that there’s a good pace, to make sure there’s no grammatical errors, to make sure your quotes and commas and words are all properly in place and spelled right. What they’re not doing is saying, “Let me just pick this story up and read it cover to cover like a regular would. Not their job.

That’s the role of the beta reader.

To simply read the story and give you whatever feedback they happen to assess from it.

For some, it’s going to be, “Hey there were no typos, there were no grammatical errors, it’s good to go.” For others it’s going to be, “You didn’t develop these characters enough in the beginning, so I don’t care about them enough halfway through when you start killing them off.”

In my head, my story flows pretty smoothly – I knew what I meant to say with just about every chapter, every paragraph, every sentence…

Maybe not every word, but, you know; I do my best.

So when I have all my chapters together, I will release it to a second set of critique partners – who get to read it more like a book and less like a critique.

They are pretty happy with that, those CPs who got to do it that way. They’re almostbeta readers

The job of the beta reader for me is just to read it make sure that what I intended to be there is there. If they see errors, point them out; otherwise, “Good story, it worked/did not work for me” – and not every story is gonna work for every reader. We know that.

So for me the job of the beta reader is basically… whatever the beta reader thinks it is.

Some look for grammar, some look for content, some look for jokes.

I’m happy with all that.

If they all write back and say, “This is the best thing that ever read!” I’m good with that, too.

* My real definition is: a well told story with interesting characters told in a compelling manner, but who’s counting.

WANNA BE A BETA for my latest project? Click CONTACT ME and say so!

 

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Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers, including the fast-paced murder mystery Double Blind.

Check out his other works HERE and check back often for interesting stuff.

Music to my ears

Hi, Dan!  I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed reading Double Blind.  I gave you a glowing review on Goodreads since I loved this story.
I found myself really interested in what would happen to Carly, Sergio and everyone else.  You generate characters that speak and behave like real people.  I enjoyed the read a lot, thanks.
Have a great night!  I’ll talk to you later.

How To Write A Review

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your humble host

We author types love it when people leave reviews on our books. I tell everybody: Love it or hate it, please leave a review on Amazon!

BUT!

It never occurred to me that a lot of readers don’t know what to write in a review.

So here’s a brief tutorial! (You may show your appreciation.)

 

1. Any review is better than no review.

Even a few words help. You can say “I loved it” or “This wasn’t for me” – something that brief still helps a lot. (More on that in a sec.)

2. Be honest, even if you didn’t like it.

Wait, do you want bad reviews?

I wish every review of my books was five stars and went on and on about how amazing I am, but the fact is – not every book is for every reader.

Good reviews help but so do bad reviews. Now, obviously, if a book gets fifty 1-star reviews in its first week and no 4 or 5-star reviews, it’s going to tank. But usually a book gets a little of some things and a lot of one thing. If your book has 100 reviews and 10 say it’s bad and 90 say it’s good, it’s good. But those ten jerks – I mean, those 10 honest people who say they prefer other authors, they allow similar-minded readers to not pick up your book. That helps the author.

Not all books are for all readers.

Cowboy romance? Please. But some people like it. So if somebody gives a book less than four or five stars, that simply means that book was not for them. And also, other readers who have similar likes will be advised not to check that book out.

You’ve all seen a book website prompting you with “people who liked that book also liked these.”

Well, a 3-star review (or less) is a way of indicating “if you didn’t like this you won’t like those either.”

So what should you put IN the review?

5 stars and “I loved it!” is always nice.

But beyond that, if you ever read a review, what about it was helpful to you?

Some reviews are like book reports. Some are brief.

What to do?

To me, the best reviews are the ones that:

A. Simply point out what the reader liked best: A fast pace or interesting characters.

B. If the style of writing was anything like a better known author, say so. (If it’s not, don’t.)

  • Does a horror story remind you of Stephen King’s writing, Clive Owen, or Dean Koontz?
  • Does an adventure story make you think of Indiana Jones?
  • Does a medical thriller compare favorably to Michael Crichton and Robin Cook?

You get the idea.

Mentioning ANY of big names, possibly saying it reminded you of a certain book by that author, helps a TON – because LOTS of people read that book and might like the one you found similar.

Be brief or be long, that’s up to you. But whatever YOU found helpful in a review is worth emulating. (Remember, even a few words help a lot.)

And of course, if you don’t like it, you don’t have to say anything.

That’s usually what people do when they didn’t like a book. They put it down and walk away and don’t post a review at all. That’s fine. Another option is to send the author a brief email mentioning what didn’t appeal to you. Most have a way to be contacted. Then he or she can use that information to help the direction of their next book. It all helps.

All in all, anything is better than nothing, and when it comes to reviews, we author types (should) appreciate them all.

Want a free book? Join my Readers Club and get an e-copy of my murder mystery Double Blind!

 

Check out my interview on “A Girl And Her Book Reviews.” 

a girl and her book reviews

Check out my interview on “A Girl And Her Book Reviews.” 

Interview with Multi-Genre Author Dan Alatorre

You’ve written in a lot of genres — thrillers, horror, children’s. Not many authors can do that. Tell me about the mental shift that lets you jump from one to another.

Hmm. Dealing with kids can be a horror story, so I’m not sure there’s a shift. Some kids make me think about murder…

A doctor studies medicine but might also play golf and cook steaks. A chef cooks steaks and plays golf, but also wants to learn to fly airplanes as a hobby. For each task, they change gears mentally, but some aspects are the same. Dedication to the task. Learning what’s required.

Like lots of people, my tastes vary. Strawberry cheesecake ice cream is my favorite, but luckily Baskin Robbins makes a few other flavors for when I want something else. I’m the same way with my writing. I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to write well different genres, and I appear to do it with relative ease, but I see the similarities in stories. Readers want…

Read the rest of the interview HERE

Many thanks to “A Girl And Her Book Reviews” for her support! It’s a great blog with a lot of useful information. Check it out. 

AND

Click HERE to read “A Girl And Her Book Reviews” take on my medical thriller The Gamma Sequence

GUEST AUTHOR OF THE WEEK: Dan Alatorre

Check out my cool interview on Campbell’s World!

Campbells World

***READER’S NOTE
Due to a technical issue I’m unable to feature the photo Dan sent with this magnificent interview.
Hello everyone and welcome back to my Guest Author of the Week column.
Last week we opened the series up with author blogger Sally Cronin. Sally chose to take my questionnaire and use the questions within as prompts and write a delightful and well received essay about herself.
This week, it gives me great pleasure to introduce to you bestselling author blogger Dan Alatorre.
Dan has chosen to do a magnificent interview so, without further ado, we begin…

First, in your own words tell us a little about you.
Hmm. I’m not sure the witness relocation program will like that, but for you, okay.
I write books you can’t put down.
I’m a mystery writer. I have 27 published titles in numerous genres, and I’ve been published in over a dozen…

View original post 2,578 more words

Need some input

Need some input.

The following blurb describes a 10,000 word story I’m thinking about releasing as part of a horror short story series. Each book in the series would have a different topic.

The question is, can I call it what I want to call it or do I have to call it something else?

Two possible titles:

A. A house by the lake

B. The Jemwaju

Here’s the blurb.

Give me your thoughts!

The Jemwaju

A man tags along to a remote Florida lake site after agreeing to let his friend’s scout troop use his RV for a weekend of clearing trees for a new cabin, but the spirit of an ancient shaman awaits there, requiring payment for past sins.