Seeking: young adult beta readers

First page

Refine, refine, refine...

UPDATE: Thank you to everyone who has offered to beta read Tangled. I now have enough beta readers. HOWEVER, if you’re aged between 15-18 years old and regularly read contemporary realistic YA fiction, I’d still love to hear from you because you’re smack bang in my target audience!

You may remember that a couple of weeks ago, I set myself a deadline of 5 September for micro-editing the first 50K of my novel-in-progress Tangled. I’m excited to report that I’m still on track to achieve that goal, having edited 30.5K to date.

My progress has got me thinking – what do I want to do once I’ve finished this round of editing? And the answer (as you probably guessed by the headline) is that I want to hand it over to beta readers. For those who aren’t familiar with the term, beta readers are people who read a manuscript in draft form and provide feedback on what works and what doesn’t. This feedback will inform future rounds of editing before (hopefully) publication. (You can read more about the role of beta readers in this marvellous post at the Open Vein.)

Because Tangled is such a hefty manuscript (175K to be exact), I think it would be best if I provided it to beta readers in parts. That way, I can start getting feedback sooner than later and people aren’t confronted with the whole book to critique in one hit. Now, before you run screaming at the word count, let me say that 175K was the final word count of the first draft. Of the chapters I’ve edited so far, I’ve reduced their word count by an average of 28%. If I continue at this rate, the word count will come down to about 126K. (Maths isn’t my strong point so if this don’t sound right, let me know!).

So, this is me putting the call out. Are you interested in beta reading Tangled (find out more about Tangled)? If so, keep reading…

Who I’m looking for

  • I’m seeking people who regularly read young adult contemporary fiction.
  • Ideally, I’d love to have a couple of beta readers who are in my target audience, i.e. 15-18 year olds. If I could get feedback from at least one girl and one guy from this age group, I’d be ecstatic.
  • I’m looking for people who are willing to make a commitment to read and provide feedback on the whole manuscript over time (and have an ongoing conversation about suggested changes and ideas).
  • I’m still deciding how many beta readers I’d like as I can see benefits to having a few (more detailed conversations) and to having a lot (able to see whether feedback is consistent or unique to one individual). Any feedback on this would be appreciated.

What I’m looking for

  • Honest feedback. I’m not looking for a pat on the back, I’m looking for genuine thoughts on what works and what doesn’t.
  • Feedback on all manner of things, such as:
    • Are the characters believable? Relatable? Likeable?
    • Does the plot move at a good pace? Does it ever lag or go too fast?
    • Are there any plot holes, character inconsistencies or sentences that jar?
    • Is there anything about the story that you particularly love or loathe?
    • At the end of the first part, where do you think the story is heading from here? What do you hope happens? What do you think WILL happen?
    • Anything else you feel I should know.

OR if you’d don’t have time to provide detailed feedback but would like to read it and provide general thoughts, I’d be happy for that too.

What are the timeframes?

  • I hope to have the first part ready by 15 September (it will be about 40K if my current reduction rate continues).
  • I’d like to receive feedback by mid-November. By this point, I hope to have finished editing part two. But before I send out part two to my beta readers, I will consider the feedback provided for part one. Depending on what feedback I get, I may need to revise part one and make subsequent changes to part two before I send out a second round.
  • My overall deadline to have the manuscript 100% complete is mid-February next year. Time will tell whether this is achievable!

Your turn

  • Would you like to be a beta reader? If so, please comment on this post or email me at callyjackson at gmail dot com.
  • I’m new to this beta-reading request caper, so if there’s anything here that stands out as a bad idea, please let me know. πŸ™‚
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15 Comments

Filed under Editing, Progress update, Revising, Tangled, Writing, YA fiction

15 responses to “Seeking: young adult beta readers

  1. I’m not really into contemporary literature so I just wanted to say good luck! This is getting to a really exciting stage.

  2. Oh that’s wonderful that you are looking for Betas πŸ™‚ I’m lucky enough to have an amazing crit-partner already! Though I don’t read contemporary fiction too much (besides a few Dessen novels) I do read a lot of YA (Since I am a YA). I wouldn’t mind looking over Tangled.

    I’ve done crit work before. Obviously for my beta, and for a few others (I’ve done manuscripts, short stories, and query letters). I do mostly global editing, so the edits you are doing right now sound perfect.

    If you’d like to contact me for more information on the critique work I’ve done, or to discuss being a beta head on over to my site, or email me.

    novelideaslifeofateenwriter.wordpress.com (my email is on the site)

    • Thanks so much for offering to be a beta reader! I’ll send you an email with more details closer to the date and you can let me know whether or not you’re still interested – I won’t be offended if you decide not to since you don’t read much contemporary fiction (but would love to hear your thoughts)! πŸ™‚

      You’re very fortunate to you have a great crit partner. I hope I get some valuable feedback from this process. It’s exciting but nerve wracking too.

  3. Hi Cally – I read A LOT of YA. I would be happy to read Tangled, but I’m not sure of my skills as a beta reader – in terms of specificity of feedback… if I really knew what I was doing I’d have my own ms going out for beta reading πŸ™‚ I might be better in the “general thoughts” category… Either way, I think the plan you’ve set out here is great. Let me know if I can help – and if the help I’m offering isn’t helpful that’s fine too – I will not be insulted if you choose more capable beta readers πŸ™‚

    • I’d LOVE to have you as a beta reader, Susanna! And I have no doubt you’d make an awesome one – you never give yourself enough credit. I’ll send you an email closer to the time with more details. πŸ™‚

  4. Well, I do love betaing and have done it, but I am a little too old for you (23). Mentally, I’m a teenager, but if you’re interested in me, I can! πŸ˜€

  5. Lia

    I would love to help.

  6. Laura cicchiello

    Hi Cally
    I would love to read Tangled!

  7. Hey Cally! I’m Rachel Bean, and we’re in the same Campaigners group! Coincidentally, Im also fifteen and love giving advice to writers πŸ˜‰ I’ve read alot of YA books ( including contemporary) and would love to read Tangled and offer up some advice!!

    • Hi, Rachel! Sorry for the late reply. This comment slipped under my radar somehow. I’d love for you to beta read Tangled. You’re smack bang in my target audience!

      I’m currently working out the best way to tackle this whole beta reading caper, so I’ll be in touch again soon. Thanks again, and speak to you very soon!

  8. Pingback: WiP Part 1 editing deadline: done and dusted! | Cally Jackson Writes

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