- What is a beta reader?
- Do I need a beta reader?
- Is there a system on MTT to connect writers with beta readers?
- I would like to be a beta-reader, how do I start?
- Beta-Reader Template and Template Notes
- I am a writer looking for a beta, where do I start?
- Tips for writers AND beta readers:
- Tips for writers
- Tips for beta-readers
- Anything else?
A beta reader (often shortened to "beta") is someone who reviews a story before you post it publicly to help with grammar, spelling & punctuation, plot issues, basically helps make sure your story is ready for the world!
At MTT we do not required authors to have their work beta-read before publishing, but we can say from experience that it is helpful to have a second set of eyes look over your story to help polish it and find all the little (and not so little) things that may be not quite on target.
To start, head to Edit Profile and below the "Bio" text box look for the "Beta-reader" line, select "Yes" and then hit "Submit" at the bottom. Now your name will appear on the Beta Reader list. You can also announce your beta reader status in this thread on the forum.
The next step is to let authors know more about your services as a beta. We suggest copying the template below, heading back to Edit Profile, pasting the template to your "Bio" text box and filling it out, then hitting "Submit" when finished.
Alternatively, there is now a Beta Reader section in the member profiles on the forum (see example here) so if you are a member of the forum or decide to become one , you can fill it out there and link from your fanfic archive profile.
Ratings I'll Beta for: K K+ T M MA
Turn Around Time for 1 Chapter: 1-3 Days | 4-7 Days | 8+ Days | Depends, contact for info
I Can Help With: American English | Other English Dialects | Punctuation & Spelling* | Grammar | Plot Suggestions | In-depth editing | Show Canon Knowledge | Show Setting Knowledge
What I can bring to your stories as your beta:
Stories/Topics I prefer not to beta:
I preferred to be contacted via:
~End Beta-Reader Template~
A few notes on filling this template out
- At the start, state if you are currently looking for stories/writers to beta, or if you are not available now but will be soon. Delete the ratings you're not interested in beta-reading, select your expected turnaround time for 1 average length chapter (about 1500-2000 words) then deleted any of the beta-reader skills that aren't applicable to you.
- Explanation of some of the beta-reader skills:
- Every beta reader should be able to assist with punctuation and spelling issues.
- Other English Dialects: Select if you are native or very familiar with any forms of Non-American English. Useful if a writer decides to actually send Jim to Australia, or have some characters from the UK Office visit, you can help the writer get the dialogue more natural.
- In-Depth Editing: you're willing to go far beyond simple checks and suggestions and work with writers on a deeper level, including helping with their structure, hammering out plot issues, etc
- Show Canon Knowledge: you can help writers who may not be so familiar with the 9 seasons of the show.
- Show Setting Knowledge: Select if you are familiar with the areas where the show takes place, namely Scranton PA. Also select if you know Eastern Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, or New York City.
- For experience, list if you have beta'd before and what you have beta'd, you can also list if you have participated in creative writing critiques in school or elsewhere.
- In the "what can I bring" section, list any further beta skills or areas of expertise that maybe be useful to writers. Definitely list if you have interesting life experiences such as you had an unusual job or have traveled a lot, or if you have experiences that are related to the show such as you have grown beets or you actually are a paper salesman.
- In "story/topic I prefer not to beta", list any topics, pairings, genres, etc that you would rather not beta-read. Don't be afraid to be honest in this section, forcing yourself to beta-read stories with topics you aren't comfortable with or just strongly dislike does neither you nor the writer any good.
- State how you want to be contacted: You will likely find yourself emailing each other back and forth, so keep in mind how much personal info is attached to your email account and how much you want to share (such as real name in your address or email settings). If you are okay with using the email address associated with your account, direct writers to the "contact me" link next to your penname on your profile (make sure you have firstname.lastname@example.org added to your safe list). Our forums have a PM system if you'd rather go through there, or most social media have PM systems also.
You can check out the List of Members who are willing to be Beta Readers, look at their profiles to see if they filled out the beta-reader template and contact anyone who you think will be a good fit for your story.
Another good way to attract beta readers is simply saying in the story/chapter notes of your fanfics that you are looking for a beta, often readers will let you know in reviews that they would be willing to look things over for you even if they aren't officially a beta-reader.
We've also created a thread on the MTT boards for people to post requests for beta readers or to offer their services.
Before starting the beta process, it needs to be clearly established what the writer wants from the beta. Do they just want a basic proofreading where the beta checks for grammar, punctuation & spelling errors? Do they want the beta to keep a close eye out for inconsistencies, characterization issues, plot holes? Is there one area in particular they would like some assistance with? Or do they want a really in-depth line-by-line edit? Once this is established, decide on time frames, how the writer will send works and how the beta will send corrections back, etc.
- Be good to your beta! This is someone who is giving your story their time and their skills for free, always be gracious for that.
- If you contact someone and they decline to be your beta, respect their decision and move on. There are many reasons they may say no, don't get upset, don't read too much into their decision and don't repeatedly ask them to reconsider.
- Be clear about what you want from your beta, the more specific the better, let them know what you want them to check for, areas you think need work and when you'd like it done.
- Proofread and spellcheck your work before sending it off to your beta, don't make them do a bunch of corrections you should be doing yourself!
- Don't get discouraged or offended when/if the beta suggests several changes or big changes, the beta reader is there as an outside perspective to help you correct the parts that are unclear and inconsistent, things writers often can't see since they are so close and invested in their own work.
- This is ultimately your story and it's okay if you don't take every suggestion your beta makes. If you do decide to forego your beta's advice on some matters, write down your reasoning and let your beta know, this can help you and your beta get to know each other's style better.
- If you find yourself taking very little of your beta's advice then this is a sign you two may not be a good match, which is okay, its better to recognize that and have you both move on than trying to force something that's not going to work.
- If you find yourself not taking many suggestions from multiple betas, then it's probably time for you to adjust your expectations of a beta reader.
- All this said, if you have someone beta review your work then don't even use their basic grammar/punctuation/spelling corrections, then you just wasted your beta's time and your own. Don't be that writer.
- Always thank your beta reader(s) in your chapters notes unless for some reason that beta specifically asks you not to.
- Beta stories you like and are interested in. Even if you like the author and their other stories, if the story they want you to beta is a genre you are not interested in or had an element you really don't care for, it's better for your AND for the author to say no than to give them a biased, unenthusiastic beta-review.
- Be sensitive and polite when you review, even though this is fanfic, writing is still a very personal thing and writers can get discouraged or defensive very easily. Ease into things if you tow are just starting your beta-relationship
- Be honest and clear about your style of beta-ing, if you like to really dig in and make a lot of suggestions for changes, tell the writer so they know what they're getting into, and respect their wishes if that's not what they are looking for.
- Your changes should be in either a different color or bolded so the writer can see what you changed.
- Point out the parts you think the writer is doing well, use this to balance out your critiques.
- Don't be offended if the writer doesn't always take your advice, this is their story and they have the right to forego your suggestions, hopefully they will let you know why.
- That said, if the writer is taking almost none of your suggestions, then this is a sign your writer/beta relationship isn't meant to be and you should both move on. If they don't take your suggestions and still request you beta for them, it's okay to say no.
- If you and the writer agreed on a time frame and you are not going to complete the review within that time, let the writer know ASAP
If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for the beta reader program, don't hesitate to tell us via the contact form or MTT.Fanfic@gmail.com
*The beta-reader template is very much borrowed from the Elysian Fields archive, whose webmaster has been an invaluable help to us!*