Monday, May 9, 2011

A Call for Beta Readers

When you're almost done with a book, it's MUCH harder to put it aside if you know somebody is waiting for it.

So... I am trolling for a few pre-readers for The Man Who Did Too Much. I'm interested in writers or readers. I'm not looking for extensive feedback or hard work. (Not turning it down either.) If you want to know more about the book (and to download the first few chapters to see what you're getting yourself in for) you can visit The Man Who Did Too Much Info Page.

I hope to have this finished and ready for readers by the middle of June. People who like to read in chunks, or who have time now can read sections are they are ready now.

What I'm looking for:

*"Reader response" is most treasured kind of response at this point. You don't have to explain, analyze or critique (although those are welcome), you can just say "the ending was a let down" or "the part about the dog was my favorite bit" or "I hated the girlfriend to the point it made me hate everyone who didn't kill her."

*Feedback on cover or blurb -- you don't even have to respond to the story itself at all. It's great to just have people who have read the thing tell me whether the cover or blurb match the story, or if I'm playing up the right elements.

*Any other kind of response, at any level, is welcome. A quick read and a sentence on the one thing you hated/liked most, or a meticulous detailed critique of all 400,000 mistakes you found are both fine. Same with thoughts on marketing or genre.

*A variety of perspectives. I need to hear from people who read a lot of mysteries, but I also want to hear from people who never read mysteries, or are really into other genres (such as romance).

*If you won't have time to read the whole thing in June or July, I would also like to hear from people willing to read a chapter or so. (The first 30k -- approx 100 pages -- is ready now.) I expect the whole thing to be in the 80-90k range when it's done.

What I can give in return:

For readers:

*If you're just a reader and don't want me to critique a manuscript in return, I will give you an autographed copy of the print version when I release the book in the fall. (I may put a limit on the number after a certain number of responses, and I do request that if you want a book, you give me at least a page or so of feedback. It can be dishonest and lavish praise. I'd rather have honesty, but hey, I'm human.) I can also include a Smashwords coupon for a free ebook version too.

For writers:
Something equivalent in effort to what you give me -- here are the things I'm good at.

*Not proofreading. I'm slightly dyslexic. You really don't want me as your proofer anyway.

*Story analysis -- I used to be a freelance story analyst for scripts. I'll do a modified coverage report for you -- a quick synopsis, and a paragraph or so on Characters, Plot, Originality, Writing, Cinematic/Genre Qualities, and either a category of your choice or just a "additional notes" category.

*Reader reaction -- I can take my analyst/teacher hat off and just read and tell you whether I liked the bit about the dog and hated the girlfriend, and if I think it's too long or too short.

*Deep reader reaction -- If I have time I might be willing to do a more beat-by-beat reader reaction in return for the same. This is where I put notes in the story that says what I'm thinking as I read. "No! No! Don't go into the basement alone!" "Yeah, right. Shoot yourself in the foot while you're at it." "I bet that's a clue." "It IS a clue!" "Oh wait, it's a red herring." And the dreaded, "Yawn" or "I hope you're not going where I think you're going."

Note that I will not have time to start reading for others until June, and I'm not the fastest reader.

I'll post another request when the book is finished, but in the meantime, you can surreptitiously check out the first five chapters and see what you're getting into on the download page.


David Michael said...

I'm not sure it's a good fit for me, but I'll check out the first 5 chapters. I'll let you know.


The Daring Novelist said...

Thanks, David. It's definitely not for everyone. This is more solidly in the cozy category, even if it's a little off in the left field of cozy-world.

I'll probably post future calls for different books, too.

Hmm, I suppose I should also mention for those who are looking for critique in return that my major reading categories include hard-boiled and police procedural -- authors like Robert Crais and Archer Mayor -- but not the more horror/thriller end of the genre.

My favorite stuff, though, is crime comedy -- hard-boiled, cozy, I don't care. I just like humor.

I also have a lot of background with sf and fantasy, but I have a low tolerance for too much world building. (I actually prefer expositional lumps to stories which are too dense with fantastic detail in every single paragraph.)

David Michael said...

I'll send you an email in bit, but I wanted to let you know that I enjoyed the first 5 chapters.

I've read books like "Saturday the Rabbi Went Hungry" and "The Burglar in the Closet" and a few more. This seemed in a similar vein. =)


The Daring Novelist said...

Thank you David! Being compared to Harry Kemelman and Lawrence Block -- that makes a mystery writer's day!

The truth is in the old days, those kind of books were solidly in the cozy category -- and those are the kinds of books I grew up with.

That's why I'm having trouble with figuring out how to do the one-line description for the expectations of today.