Wednesday, March 4, 2015

IWSG: My Blog Has Been Compromised!!

Join the IWSG HERE!

I just came to say how amazing beta reading Elizabeth's new NA (I know!! NA!!!) book, Defying Reason was for me! She did amazing.. Wait... Wait... Elizabeth? Is that you outside my window with binoculars?? What? NO! You can't come in! No...NO...NOOOOOO....


I'm here...taking over Tammy's blog!
Now get on out of here, Tammy. Go ride your new motorcycle and relax. I've got this.

Thanks to the ninja master Alex J. Cavanaugh for the opportunity to share our fears and insecurities with the world (and each other!) Special thanks to this month's co-hosts,  Chemist KenSuzanne Sapseed, and Shannon Lawrence!

Now, let's talk about....

Beta Giver Insecurity

Beta reads usually take me several hours. When I pleasure read, I feel free to skim over stuff to get to the meat of the story whenever and wherever I feel like it. I've even been known to jump whole chapters ahead if nothing plot crucial is happening.

But when I beta read, I'm reading every sentence, every word. I'm looking for errors and flaws- applying a hyper-critical eye to plot, characters, etc.

Then when I'm done, I write up an email with my reflections and attach the document with all my thoughts, suggestions, and beefs with the story.

Then, right before sending, I pause.

 I know I don't know everything. I mean, I once thought this outfit was fashionable:

Oh, the 80's! When style was big, and the hair was even bigger.
Me and My eclectic blend of men:
Clark Gable, hot abs, President Reagan, and Billy Idol
So, I wonder...who am I to give advice? Who am I to offer an opinion? I mean, if I knew everything, I'd be rolling in dough and selling in the millions.

But then I think about all the time and effort I put into reading and note taking. It's a waste to do all that work and then wuss out and say nothing.

In my email, I always try to stress to the writer...this is my opinion and my opinion could be crap.

The way I see it, raising books is like raising babies.

You read books; you get advice, but in the end, you do what's best for your baby.

Everyone should know that.

That way, I don't have to feel like an insecure ogre when I suggest there may be a flaw in someone's work. And if you don't agree, I hope you ignore me. Cause I would ignore you. ;)

The Blurb:

Jo Leigh Harper comes from a long line of trouble-making, white trash stock.
Tanner Coulter comes from a longer line of wealth-creating, blue blood stock.
Jo graduated college top of her class, moving toward a future full of possibilities.
Tanner dropped out of college, trading a law degree for drinking games and one night stands.

A family crisis throws the rich party boy and the poor genius girl together. The attraction is immediate, though neither one is a heart-in-the-sand-drawing believer in true love. But as the summer sun heats up along the shores of the Outer Banks, so does the connection between them. Maybe, just maybe, they can win at love by defying reason.

Author Bio:

Elizabeth is a multi-published author of books for people who are believers in happily-ever- after, true love, and stories with a bit of fun and twists with their plots. The mother of four young men, she tackles laundry daily and is the keeper of the kitchen. She lives along the shores of the Ohio River in West Virginia, but dreams daily of the beach. 

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Sarah Foster said...

I've never actually beta read for anyone and I think it's because of that feeling of "what right do I have to tell them what to do?" But hopefully anyone's opinion on the book would help the author in some way.

Natalie Aguirre said...

I'm sure you're a great beta reader. But I know what you mean about being insecure about it. How do we know our opinion is good? That's the question we ask ourselves.

Melissa said...

I'm sure you're a great beta reader, too. And that's what it's about--your opinion. Whether the author makes changes over it or not is up to them. In any case, having that objective feedback is crucial.

Great post, even if you did break in to Tammy's blog to do it. LOL

IWSG #142 until Alex culls the list again.

Tamara Narayan said...

I think I had that same 80's outfit in sky-blue.

I understand what you mean about critiquing other's work. Nobody wants to come off sounding like they know it all. But I think it is okay to stand by your opinion without apologizing for having one. I guess the trick is to offer feedback in a way that comes across an encouraging and not like a stern schoolteacher brandishing a blood red pen. (As a former math prof., I admit, I'm still working on that.)

Stephanie Faris said...

I'm beta reading for someone right now and having those same thoughts. I plan to preface my email with, "These are JUST my opinions, so feel free to discard anything you want! Just take them as one reader's thoughts while I was reading the story." People think because we're published or have been doing this a while we've achieved some level of expertise but our personal tastes and experiences can color our perception of things just like any other reader.

Loni Townsend said...

Having been at the receiving end of your beta read, I think you're AMAZING!! You know your stuff, Elizabeth. And that means your opinions hold merit with me. <3

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

My opinion might be crap - funny!
I feel the same way. Who am I to judge? I don't even know what I'm doing.
Yes, you look very 80's. You could guest star on the show The Goldbergs in that outfit.

Michael Di Gesu said...

Hi, Tamms, Hi, Elizabeth....

That's what BETAS are SUPPOSED to do! Why ask for a BETA read, if you are not willing to improve your work.

I LOVE my CP'S AND BETAS... I've learned HEAPS from them and I can go forth an carry on this time honored tradition. WE are all editors and can see so much more in other's work than in our own.

I'd have you BETA for me anytime Elizabeth!

Enjoy your RUN, Tamms... Hope the EYE CANDY puts a SPRING in your step!

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I always feel the same way about beta reading. I don't feel like any kind of expert and worry I'm giving good advice.

ilima said...

You look adorable in the 80s! I think you can always find something nice to say about someone's book, and when I do dish out criticism, I try to be nice about it. But the way I see it, I would hope my betas would tell me what's wrong because that's kind of the point...I want to make my story better.

Tyrean Martinson said...

Oh, I know that feeling as a beta reader - it's scary to hold someone else's book in your hands and know what to say that will help.
Nice take-over btw, hope Tammy enjoyed her motorcycle ride. :)

Pat Hatt said...

Very true, we just have to remember our opinion may very well be crap

Chrys Fey said...

Tammy beta read one of my books recently, but I don't think she liked it as much as she liked yours, Elizabeth. ;) She helped me to make it better, though. :)

When I beta read, I definitely make sure to point out all the things I like and to use a gentle tone when I mention things I think they should work on, but I always say it's just a suggestion. The writer can take it or not.

Lisa said...

Right. Which is why if I don't like a book after I read it, I don't give a "bad" review. I just don't review it. One of my beta readers sent a three page email with his comments/thoughts/concerns, of which three quarters were trying to make me understand he wasn't critiquing ME, just the work! I love it. I asked him to read it because I knew he'd be honest, and he was.

JoJo said...

Someone did ask me if I would beta read for her...or proofread....but I didn't get around to it cause it was online and I really have a hard time concentrating to long bits of text on the computer. I like an actual book. I could've printed it but it was 200 pages.

cleemckenzie said...

You're right. Books are just like kids. You start off with them as infants; you nourish, encourage, shape up and then send off!

Hope Tammy had a good bike ride. You did a great job here on her blog.

Elephant's Child said...

Thank you both for another new perspective.
I am in awe of writers. I am grateful to and for writers.
And I have never considered the difficulties of beta reading before. I was asked to proof read someone's work and dithered. I swear that at least half of my email in response was stressing that it was just my opinion. And now you tell me (show me) that I am normal. Not something I often hear...

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Just wanted to pop in and say hi and thank you Tammy!!! We have snow storm/flood coming and I need to go buy twenty loaves of bread and ten gallons of milk...cause that's just what you gotta do!

Tammy Theriault said...

I'm just stopping in to say elizabeth is stealing my bread!!! BAD! NO!!!

Carol Kilgore said...

So true. Only the author knows her vision for the story. I rarely pay attention unless more than one reader says the same thing.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Every little bit of input helps at that stage.

Oh, I remember those perms and feathered hair of the early 80's.

Lynda R Young said...

Our babies need careful handling. :)

dolorah said...

I always take a moment to re-read my beta feedback also. Sometimes my sarcasm comes off cruel sounding, so I self edit. I also remind the author that it is totally just my opinion, and opinions vary. Sometimes my insights help, sometimes not.

Its hard to slip into reader mode for an author.

Tanya Miranda said...

OMG - how I would love it if my betas would send me a laundry list of notes. I've had a few betas for my first two novels that ended in a short summary email with just a few bullet points and "I love it!" all over the place. Not helpful. Encouraging - yes, but not helpful.

By the way, Ronald Reagan WAS a hottie!!!

Carrie-Anne said...

I love the juxtaposition on your Eighties wall! Those aren't people I'd ever expect to appear together in the same decorating scheme.

Suzy Turner said...

I regularly beta read for a YA / NA author who has now become a firm online pal. Although I do pause before I send the email to her, I know that she understands everything I say is just my opinion and I am just one small fish in a very big pond of swimming writers (sorry, that sucked). But she always replies how grateful she is - she also now calls me her Eager Eyes, I think I pick up more than most (probably because of my previous career as an editor!) :) x

Lexa Cain said...

Elizabeth - the Home Invasion Queen!

Very good points about reading as a beta and reading for pleasure. I try to put my crits in the form of suggestions so no one thinks I'm an "Ogre."

Anonymous said...

I'm always surprised when people want me to Beta Read for them . . . neat that someone values my opinion :-) But absolutely, it's just MY little opinion, take it or leave it!