Frequently Asked Questions – Alpha and Beta Reading (FAQ)

What is Alpha/Beta Reading?
How do I leave my feedback?
Can you give me a little more detail about what you’re looking for in feedback?
Are you going to get mad if I don’t like it?
Can I ask you questions about something I don’t understand?
Can I pester you to tell me the end (if reading an unfinished draft)?
Okay, I think I can handle that; how do I access the story again?
I think I lost my password.
My friend / spouse / mother / co-worker / nemesis would LOVE to do this.
Do I get anything out of this?
Can I talk/blog/tweet/Instagram/cave-draw about what I’m doing as a reader?


 

What is Alpha/Beta Reading?

Alpha and Beta reading is volunteer reading a work for an author as a test reader.

As a way to gauge if my story is working, I solicit feedback and opinions from a group of volunteer readers – alpha and beta readers. I’m looking for your reactions to the story. I’d like you to read it and comment about it, preferably in near real-time as you read it. Comments posted just after reading a chapter will give me a clearer indication as to your reaction than waiting a day or two to digest what you’ve read.

As you provide feedback, it lets me know where potential problems are in the story that I will be able to address on the next revision pass.

How do I leave my feedback?

In the COMMENTS section at the end of each chapter post on my blog (preferred), but email may also be used.

Can you give me a little more detail about what you’re looking for in feedback?

I want to know if you are entertained. As a reader, you are invaluable for your ability to tell me if something is wrong. Stories should entertain and I want you to have a good time reading my stories. Getting feedback that helps me know when you’re not being entertained or when you’re having a great time lets me know if there is a problem with the story. My job as the author is to fix what’s not entertaining and enhance what is.

If you need some more ideas about what to look for, below are some questions you could consider.

  1. Interest – Are you bored?  Are you enjoying it? Did you find yourself skimming any section? Do you like the characters/setting/plot? Do you want to keep reading?
  2. Clarity – Does the prose make sense? Can you distinguish which character is speaking when no dialog tags (he said/she said) are used?  Can you see the setting clearly? Does the story make sense?
  3. Believability – Do the characters react/behave in a consistent fashion? Are they motivated by big enough goals?  Is the setting consistent and do the characters interact with it as you would expect? Did I violate a law of physics or ignore social norms?
  4. Impact – Does the scene move you?  What is your emotional response to what has just happened?  Do you fear for the character? Do your emotions mirror that of the view point character?

Are you going to get mad if I don’t like it?

No. I understand that not everyone will like what I write or find my writing style engaging. If you’re bored by it, I want to know. If you don’t like my characters, please tell me. That is the only way I will know what to consider fixing, the only way I can get better as a writer.

Can I ask you questions about something I don’t understand?

Yes, feel free to ask. Some, I may explain as they could be things vital to understanding the story. But often I have planned how I give out information in the book and I want that “mystery” to help pull you forward through the story. So my response may be “Good question – let’s find out.”

Can I pester you to tell me the end (if reading an unfinished draft)?

See previous question.

Okay, I think I can handle that; how do I access the story again?

From the menu above, select “Writings” then the format you will be reading (novel or short) and then the link to the manuscript.

I think I lost my password.

Go to the front page  and re-submit the password request form. I’ll happily resend it to you.

My friend / spouse / mother / co-worker / nemesis would LOVE to do this.

Great! Please refer them to the front page (https://youngheart80.wordpress.com/) so that they can request the password. Please don’t share the password with others.

Do I get anything out of this?

Other than a free story? Yes. I’m hoping to publish in the future. At publication time, I would love to publicly recognize your efforts on my behalf as part of the official acknowledgements for the book. At this point, that’s all I can offer, but there’s at least the chance you get to see your name in print.

Can I talk/blog/tweet/Instagram/cave-draw about what I’m doing as a reader?

Absolutely. All I ask is that you don’t reveal details (i.e. spoilers) of the story. You can talk about how much you like a character or your experience trying to distill your feedback into coherent thought or your frustration with my slow writing pace. Or whatever else you’d like. Just keep the story itself under wraps.

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