Let's Chat About Alpha And Beta Readers!


Alpha and beta readers . . . what in the world are those?

An alpha reader usually reads over your book more towards the beginning of the writing process, while a beta reader tends to read over your book more towards the end of the process.

But when is a good time to open for alphas and betas?

Well, Eliana over at Eliana the Writer made a poll on the Young Writers Workshop Community, which I filled out, and I'd like to share with you my thoughts on when you should open for alphas and betas for YOUR books.

This is gonna be good, so let's get started!


HOW THIS IS GOING TO WORK

So real quick, here's how this is going to work: I'm going to give you most of the questions Eliana asked in the poll (although some of the wording of the questions might be changed for clarification), and then I'll give you my answers (which might be a little longer and more elaborate than the original answers I gave).

Here we go!

#1: WHAT DO YOU HAVE EXPERIENCE IN?

I have been an alpha reader, but not a beta reader (so far). I have also opened for alphas and betas for my novelette, Healed by the Storm.

#2: IN YOUR OPINION, WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO OPEN FOR ALPHAS?


I believe that you can open up for alphas whenever you feel ready and whenever you feel you need the feedback. Some writers find that they need encouragement and feedback earlier in the process, so they open nearer the beginning of their writing process. Other writers can't let anyone see their writing until the first draft is done. It really depends on the writer.

Other writers simply skip the alpha stage and prepare their book for betas only.

#3: SHOULD ONE PUT A LIMIT ON HOW MANY ALPHAS ONE HAS?

I don't think there needs to be a limit on your alpha readers unless too much feedback is too overwhelming. As Eliana mentioned in the poll, some don't follow through. Some can't keep the commitment because life happens, or maybe they didn't realize how much they have committed to already, and they have to drop out. It's nice to have several readers in case a few have to drop out.

#4: SHOULD ONE GIVE HIS/HER ALPHAS EVERYTHING AT ONCE OR A LITTLE AT A TIME?

It depends on personal preference. (See the next question.)

#5: WHY? (AND HOW MUCH SHOULD YOU GIVE THEM AT A TIME?)

I personally like it when writers give their writing a little at a time. As a reader, since I'm busy, it isn't so overwhelming. It's nice to have a stopping point where you have to wait for the writer to post more before you can read more. (Then again, maybe your book is so good that your readers will get upset for not being able to read the next chapter!)

How much at a time?

For short stories and novelettes, probably all at once, or in two or three bits.

For novellas and novels, a chapter or two at a time. When I was alpha-reading for someone, she tried to put up a chapter a week. That way, it wasn't overwhelming for the reader, and the writer had a "deadline" that made her keep writing and stay consistent. It was a win-win!

#6: WHAT IS YOUR PROCESS FOR RESPONDING TO ALPHA/BETA SUGGESTIONS AND COMMENTS?

I try to clear as many comments as I can right away so it isn't so much to look at later, but sometimes I have to think about a suggestion and come back to it. So I might have a lot of "little" suggestions/comments resolved in one sitting but have several that still need to be gone through and thought about.

#7: HOW MUCH DO YOU SELF-EDIT BEFORE YOU SHARE YOUR WIP WITH ALPHAS OR BETAS?

For me, I tried to work on and edit Healed by the Storm until I felt comfortable enough to share it with others. I knew it still needed lots of work, but it wasn't in the awful, first draft stage.

If you want feedback on the plot, earlier in the process/rough draft is probably better than later in the editing stage. You don't want to be editing something that you'll eventually cut!

#8: AT WHAT DRAFT DO YOU OPEN UP YOUR WORK TO BETAS?

Again, it depends on the project. I've only opened once or twice to betas for my novelette, and I thought it was pretty close to being done when I opened, but I still occasionally work on it now. More work than I expected had to be done on it. (But that's okay!)

I'd say open for betas after two or three drafts. Hopefully you have the majority of the plot nailed down pretty well, and now you just need some smaller edits.

#9: WHAT ARE YOUR TIPS FOR OPENING FOR ALPHAS AND BETAS?

Every reader will likely forget that he is alpha or beta reading for you, especially if he has multiple books he's helping with editing. It's easiest to remind your readers to keep reading if you make a sort of messaging group, or send a weekly email, and comment with, "The next chapter is up!"

For giving your readers the book to read, Google Docs is so much easier than Microsoft Word, in my opinion. Now, that said, I haven't figured out yet how to edit with Microsoft Word so that the author has the option to accept or reject the suggestions, but Google Docs is super easy to use. You just have to have a Google account (which is free!).

When you use a Google Doc, make sure it's on suggesting mode, not viewing. Editing mode is okay, but some people might not realize it, and they'll edit your work without letting you see and accept the changes. Suggesting mode is the ideal mode.

Try to keep the book's information simple and concise in the post or email. A mock cover is sometimes nice. Include the title (if you have one), genre, synopsis/blurb, and some other information. Long posts/emails are not fun to read, so try to keep everything short, to the point, yet informative.

Include some important information, though, such as the synopsis/blurb in your post so people know what they're getting into and what to expect. Content warnings are nice for a separate document so you don't have a long post or email for people to read.




So there you have it! Those are 9 questions concerning alpha and beta readers! This is from my experience while watching people ask for alphas/betas, asking for them myself, and being an alpha!



what about you?
Have you ever opened for alphas or betas? Have you ever been an alpha or beta?

4 comments:

  1. This was really interesting! Thanks for writing it!)☺

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it, Rachel! Thanks for reading! :D

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  2. I love beta reading, on both sides. ;) This is really good advice...thanks for always sharing this kind of stuff!

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    1. That's awesome! You're welcome! Glad you found it helpful!

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