Thursday, November 19, 2009

Proper Ettiquette or Hurry the Hell Up Already!

So here is a little conundrum the more experienced writers out there should be able to shed some light on: When it comes to "beta readers" a term I thought was more ubiquitous than it apparently really is, how many do you ask? How long do you wait? And how do you go about gaining compliance from your beta readers? I've heard conflicting reports on this and i was wondering what people thought. I myself handed out three times as many beta copies as I got critiques or responses. What is the ettiquette in these situations? I really would rather not pick at people, since everyone's busy and all, but these are definitely people who actively asked to look my book over. I'm certainly not having hurt feelings, i was just wondering what people thought about this somewhat delicate balance of hopefullness, guilt, usefullness and nebulous non existant deadlines?
"Its not like you need it by a certain time, i'll get to it when i get to it."
True, i'm not under outside pressure, but i sure as hell ain't getting any younger and my brain is screaming "finish that thing and send it off somewhere. How valuable can beta critique be anyways?
So i'm asking, how valuable is it?

1 comment:

Jon said...

It can be extrememly valuable and something you want to persue as much as you reasonablly can.

First, though, I think you have to start out by just accepting that some people won't respond at all. That's just how it goes. They either mean well, but are busy, or they really disliked it... either way: No help.

But, if you want to see if you can prod people into action, then there's nothing wrong with a blanket e-mailand a made up deadline.

"Hey, I'm gathering up all my responses so I can begin editing by Jan. 1st... This is important o my submission timetable. Do you think you'll be done by then? If you don't expect to or don't think you'll get to it at all, let me know and I'll plan accordingly."

If someone doesn't answer by 7-10 days later, follow up with a quick, polite, and personal e-mail.

"How's it going? I didn't hear from you whether or not you were going to read my thing? Can you? If not, it's cool, just let me know..."

If they don't respond by then? Move on.

But yes, Beta readers are important in helping you discover some possibly hidden truths to your manuscript.