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First, you have to know your beta readers. If they are your mom, your aunt Bertha, and your college roommate, they will be lame and probably just tell you how great you are. So this question really be

If that's what's happening, then you're simply not doing it right.     Not familiar with the details, but it really all depends on what that fifth person said.   If you get

Clearly, you've never met my family...     😄  

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17 minutes ago, Paul but not THE said:

This writer leans toward edgy current issues stuff and my whole story setting is a Mayberry/Hooterville/Pixley sort of place.  I like to have clean fun, and the other guy thinks I need to be edgier.  Oh well.  I like his protagonist, so far.

 

Got you, but do your beta readers represent your target audience?

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2 hours ago, paulchernoch said:

I have never been disappointed by a beta reader that I met on this site. They all offered useful feedback which enabled me to make significant improvements to my mss. 

 

Paul, let me ask you the same question, do you feel that your beta readers represent you target audience?

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I suspect not but that does not mean they can't  comment on plot, pace character etc. I just a beta read for a character driven story - very different to my own work which leans to suspense but the mechanics remain the same.

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1 hour ago, suspensewriter said:

Do you know your beta readers, @EBraten?

Some of them are author friends. Others are also fellow authors, but we only swap beta reads and aren't buddies. Yet others are strangers I hire via a beta service. I usually have a mix of all three. I never rely on only the ones I know.

 

I've had mixed experiences with my hired betas. The first time I used a paid beta I thought she was way too nice, although I asked her to be blunt. I know I'm not as good as she said. 😆 The second time, with different strangers, I got much more helpful feedback.

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5 minutes ago, suspensewriter said:

I never thought of that--in fact I've never heard of them?

There are quite a few people who do it freelance, but I've found the best service with these guys. Worth every penny for me.

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9 hours ago, suspensewriter said:

I know all the arguments in favor of them, but aren't they really just a way of reinforcing out ourselves, of just matching beta readers with our hopes that say, "That's great!"

 

If that's what's happening, then you're simply not doing it right.

 

9 hours ago, suspensewriter said:

Before you all hang me, Zee's got an example where she has five beta readers.  Four of the beta readers like her story, and the fifth doesn't.  Should she

 

Not familiar with the details, but it really all depends on what that fifth person said.

 

If you get positive feedback from a majority of your beta readers, and a minority is critical, it dosen't mean you ignore the minority. They might have found some important issues to address, or it could be minor, or just a simple case of not liking the story (which happens all the time out in the marketplace - no one writes something everyone likes).

 

If you chose your beta-readers carefully, then you should be able to navigate the criticisms to get a solid feel for the quality of your story. After all, what's the alternative? Publishing (or seeking a publisher) with no idea of the caliber of your work ?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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4 hours ago, Accord64 said:

If that's what's happening, then you're simply not doing it right.

 

I'm just asking the question, @Accord64, because I don't use beta readers myself.  I'm really interested in what everyone else says to learn.

 

 

 

 

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4 hours ago, Accord64 said:

If you chose your beta-readers carefully, then you should be able to navigate the criticisms to get a solid feel for the quality of your story. After all, what's the alternative? Publishing (or seeking a publisher) with no idea of the caliber of your work ?

 

I couldn't agree with you more.

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On 3/30/2021 at 2:05 PM, suspensewriter said:

All right, here's a question for you:  are beta readers just lame or is it me?

Great question SW. I've really enjoyed reading everyone's responses.

 

I think that in many ways, it depends on what you are looking for from having beta readers. What your end goal is will probably affect what people you ask to beta for you. If you're looking for people to tell you how amazing your story is and how you're going to hit the NYT best-seller lists, then they're going to be lame. If you're genuinely looking for ways to improve your story, then you're probably going to look for people who will be able to a) give you honest feedback and b) be able to tell what is or isn't working for them.

 

It probably also depends on where you are in your writing journey. If you have published a number of books and are confidant with your skills, then beta readers might end up only slowing you down. But if you're uncertain with any aspect of your book, it might be a good idea to get some feedback on it.

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4 hours ago, Claire Tucker said:

If you're looking for people to tell you how amazing your story is and how you're going to hit the NYT best-seller lists, then they're going to be lame. If you're genuinely looking for ways to improve your story, then you're probably going to look for people who will be able to a) give you honest feedback and b) be able to tell what is or isn't working for them.

 

Very true words, Claire.  I may not always like what I get back, but it 9/10 constructive criticism and insightful.

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