A Call to Arms! (Or, mostly just a call for opinions)

1346340_80135298Ok, so this isn’t a call to arms, I have just always wanted to say that. Mostly because battle formations in movies, TV shows, and books really get my inner-warrior roused and raring.

As a part of my job and part of my outside-of-job life, I have come across many aspiring writers. Many of you are either anticipating submissions or have published something already. As a writer myself, I understand that budgets are low for most in terms of editing and manuscript evaluations, whether for long or short stories.

I’ve been hearing a lot about beta readers lately and it got me to thinking: I am interested in beta reading, but because of my experience and my education, I don’t think I would want to provide beta reading as it is—free. I still need to eat, you know. So, I’m wondering what you, my readers, think of my idea.

I am considering offering a sort of beta reading, or light manuscript evaluation for short stories at a low cost. Maybe along the lines of $5/page up to $250.00 (this is just floating around in my head, I am open to suggestions). That way, flash fiction and short story writers can get a professional review of their work without breaking the bank and they will have a stronger story to submit when they decide to take the plunge.

I would want to provide feedback in terms of where the story could use some work, how to fix it, and a few suggestions on what could be done differently. I’d catch any errors that I found, but it wouldn’t be a full edit. I would take a look at characterization, story arc, plot, premise, dialogue, and setting, and let you know my thoughts in a write-up after I finished.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not one for blatant self-promotion, that’s not what this is. I am simply curious as to what the reception of such a proposal would be like. I also like to help writers without making it impossible for them to get the advice or support that they want. This would be for fiction only, as that’s where I am happiest, and I think that us fiction writers need the most help.

So, I ask you, would you be interested in something like this? What do you think would be a fair price? Do you think that something like this would be helpful?

If you’re interested in having something like this done for your work, you can
email me
with any questions, suggestions, or thoughts. If you want to know more about what I do, you can visit my website, where you will find all kinds of interesting things.

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29 thoughts on “A Call to Arms! (Or, mostly just a call for opinions)

  1. I certainly think it’s a good idea to maybe make a side job out of beta reading. I suggest contacting other beta reading services (there are more than a few) and asking what their experiences are and what sort of business plans they use. You never know; I might just ask you to look at one of my books someday.

  2. Definately a good idea. Since you have experience I think it would work out well. Just make sure you make all terms very clear before hand ( make sure the writer knows it isn’t full edit etc).

    • Of course. I do love contracts, and I use them for all clients, regardless of the project size. We’ll see how it goes. If it gets some interest, I will develop a contract and decide on the specs.

  3. This is tricky. Education is all well and good. but you represent one person. Which is not a full Beta read, most authors will get a group that all have opinions. Even unformed opinions will shed a lot of light on issues in a story. This isn’t saying its a bad idea at all. Just that it seems a partial idea.

  4. Beta reading sounds like an amazing opportunity to foster the writing profession. If you, as a more experienced writer, were able to provide advice at a low cost, you might inspire and advance an even larger number of new writers by providing them with invaluable pointers and constructive criticism. However, one person’s opinion might not be enough. What if you were to create a beta reading group? You could take in passages from clients and have experts in different areas analyze their writing. Once they got their writing back, it might look like Armageddon with all the red ink, but they would have a clear picture of how their book might be received. Key members of the group could be former or current editors that would be interested in a side job or the extra investment into the writing community. You could even have a diverse group of people (publisher, writer, editor, marketer, etc.) look at the manuscripts that are sent in. If your business takes off, you could even start recommending manuscripts to publishers, and based on your reputation, your clients would be more likely to be published which would give an added incentive for writers to use your beta reading service.

    Your idea seems like a boundless one; don’t be afraid to try it out! It sounds amazing!

    • It would have to be small for now, as I would need to make a little from it to feed myself, :). Since I offer marketing, editing, writing, and publishing support, I think I’d just like to start out with myself and see if it garners any success. If it did go well, I would consider starting a site where beta “professionals” could interact with writers. Then, who knows? I’ll have to see if there’s any real interest in it before taking it farther.

  5. The only thing I would be concerned about since you are charging is pushy authors. Usually beta-readers are free so you can’t be too extremely demanding with them, (I’ve beta read books before too). But the people you beta read for might expect you to also edit & proofread their work, instead of just providing your professional opinions regarding their work.

    • That’s true! I’d have to make sure that I created, and implemented a very straightforward and clear contract. I’d be sure to make sure that each understood the terms. For that price, and for the size of shorts/flash, I wouldn’t be able to provide a full edit, but I’d pick out what I found during the read at least. Thanks for the info, it’s appreciated.

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