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Third-party Review of Completed ManuscriptHow much outside review of your MS did you seek?


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#1 EMThomas

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Posted 31 March 2012 - 01:46 PM

Hi all,

Glad I found this community, I am excited to be apart of it.

So my question is this: after you finished your manuscript (and by "finished" I mean you went through all of your own revision reads), how many outside readers did you seek to read through it? My parents, fiance, and brother are looking at mine, though none of them normally reads epic fantasy. Still, they are all sharp writers and quite blunt, so hopefully I get something out of their takes. But beyond core parties like that, have many of you sought outside readers for your drafts?

I'm putting the finishing touches on my synopsis and query letter, so basically I'm trying to determine when "enough is enough" and it's time to start sending out the letters. Obviously, I want to have my shelf-ready version of the book completed prior to sending out the queries.

I searched for this question but couldn't find it discussed in much detail, so I greatly appreciate any insight you can offer.

Best,
EMT

#2 LucidDreamer

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Posted 31 March 2012 - 04:15 PM

Of course I had my husband read mine, and a couple of friends. But more importantly I asked a few people in my book club -- a published writer, an editor, and others who have some involvement and/or knowledge of the publishing world. They were very helpful. I tried to ask a variety of people, including some who do not usually read in the genre of my novel.

I don't think there is any set number of people who need to read it before you feel it is "ready." I just wanted a good "cross-section" of people so that I felt that I was getting a variety of viewpoints.

#3 Litgal

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Posted 31 March 2012 - 07:46 PM

Beta readers from within your circle of family and friends are fine but what you REALLY need is a critique partner (or two). These are other writers with no other sort of relationship with you to start (though eventually good critique partners become friends). Writers and folks who -- like yourself -- have done research into the publishing industry have a different type of eyes than "civilians." You can advertise here for a critique partner (there is a board for that), join a writers group in your area, or make connections with other writers at conferences (that's where I found my partners) but you DO need a dedicated critique partner. Find someone who can 1) write (offer to read and critique their first 3 chapters as step one and reject anyone who can't write) and 2) critique (lots of writers can't. Does the person offer pithy pointed remarks about what works and what doesn'? or does he/she just rewrite everything to reflect her own style or (worse still) just cheerlead?). Good luck!
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#4 SueJay

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Posted 31 March 2012 - 08:26 PM

I've been having the same issue. I think the number isn't the issue so much as the kind of readers you get. Aside from my mom (who I knew would be useless) I got someone from my target reader audience and a couple English majors to go over my first couple rounds. But after that is really does help to find a critique partner or group. Which is harder said than done. Look around for a writer's conference in your area, and try to make a few friends while you're there. Or post on a board or two. It really takes a lot of time and I think trial and error to find a good critique partner. It's like dating.

#5 EMThomas

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 11:29 AM

Thank you all for the responses, just the kind of feedback I was looking for. If any of you can recommend certain beta readers you have found/worked with from these forums (that you think would be open to working with someone new), I would appreciate it, otherwise I will keep my eyes out for writing conferences coming up in my area. Probably just the lawyer in me, but I'm a little wary of using someone off the internet without someone vouching for their credentials/veracity first. Thanks again.

#6 Litgal

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 11:41 AM

Probably just the lawyer in me, but I'm a little wary of using someone off the internet without someone vouching for their credentials/veracity first. Thanks again.


Not another one, lol. This place is overrun with lawyers turned writer (myself included).
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#7 EMThomas

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 12:01 PM

lol I should have apologized before I made my first post! Better late than never: sorry!

#8 Kerry Ann

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 07:33 AM

I'm at about the same stage as you. My women's fiction manuscript should be ready for beta readers in the next week or so, but I'm having a tough time finding any who would be of real use. My husband and parents would just say it's great (encouraging, but not useful). I have a few close friends who are readers, but they wouldn't have the knowledge necessary to give me a real critique. I want to have at least three nitpicky, thorough, readers go through it and be ruthlessly honest. Only after I address any of their issues/suggestions will I feel ready to query.

Good luck to you!

#9 Joey

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 07:49 AM

This is a tough decision, but for me the choice was to use a few select people as betas. One is of course my crit partner who I will with grateful heart enlist him to read the full after we're done with revisions, and the others are my husband, sister, and friend who is an avid reader of thrillers and mysteries.

It is important to know whose eyes will be on your manuscript and this is why a trusted crit partner is worth their weight in gold or platinum.

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#10 Rfn T Leurs

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Posted 29 April 2012 - 07:24 AM

The problem with using family is that they will try and shield you. Which although is kind of them, is rather counter productive. You need people who are generally brutally honest with a keen eye for words, grammar and storytelling and that combination is pretty hard to find. So good luck and keep moving forward. :)
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#11 INCspot

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Posted 29 April 2012 - 10:31 AM

I asked a whole bunch of people of varying demographics for mine, but only three or four actually provided me with feedback, including someone I'm collaborating with on a big project at some point. The most difficult part of soliciting feedback is actually getting feedback, which is understandable given the time commitments other people are sure to have - jobs, family obligations, etc.

In addition to seeking assistance from fellow writers, I would also solicit from people who are not, people who are most likely to be just a casual reader. They may not be as much help when it comes to writing mechanics, but in terms of getting a feel for how the average reader would like your book, their feedback is valuable in that way.
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