So, let’s say you’ve given your manuscript to all your alpha-readers already. They pointed out trouble-areas and you fixed those then gave your manuscript to your beta-readers. They pointed out more major structural changes and you put your nose to the grindstone and made more changes. Unfortunately, now you’ve run through all your regular readers and you want a fresh set of eyes.
Or let’s say that for one reason or another, you don’t think your regular alpha/beta-readers will appreciate your new manuscript. It’s not to their preferred taste and you’re looking for someone outside your normal sphere of feedback for this one-off project.
Or maybe you’ve just had no luck at all getting feedback and need a reader who will take your work seriously, who will actually get back to you when they say they will, or who will speak bluntly about their reading experience.
In all of these cases and more, I offer my services as a beta-reader. This is not to be confused with the job of an editor or copy-editor. I will be reading your work using these principles. Preferably, I will not be the first set of eyes to look at your manuscript, but if that’s what you need, then I am willing to be an alpha-reader, as well.
Normally, yes, you don’t pay your alpha/beta-readers but swap services with them instead. “I’ll read your manuscript if you read mine,” and so on. However, good feedback is sometimes hard to find, especially a fresh set of eyes when you’re in a pinch. I’ve had to do a lot of scaling back on alpha/beta-reading these past several years. I don’t like saying no, but my time and energy are limited. So this is the solution I’ve hit on, to fill a specific need. Finances are also rocky at the moment, I still have health challenges, I need some additional income, et voilà. Necessity is the mother of invention. 🙂
- I’ve read for Mary Robinette Kowal (Glamourist Histories, books 3-5), C.N. Holmberg (The Paper Magician Series), translator Lara Harmon (Alone, On the Wind), Niki Smith (Some Did Rest webcomic), translator Allison Charette (Words without Borders, December 2015 issue), and others.
- See Mary Robinette Kowal’s post on my alpha-reading or her referral on Writing Excuses podcast.
- See Charlie N. Holmberg’s plug on Twitter.
- Lara Harmon’s public thanks.
- Unless you’re seeking feedback on a translation, I will convert your novel (40k+ wordcount) into a form I can read on my Kindle, read it using beta-reading principles, and provide feedback to you in an e-mail summary. Don’t worry, my notes won’t be short. 😉
- I will cover such topics as characters, plot, worldbuilding, anything I found confusing or incomplete, parts I particularly liked, and so on.
- I will act as a built-in sensitivity reader for topics such as religion/spirituality, disability, chronic illness, and the aromantic/asexual spectra. (You may be surprised by this addition, but there have been very few projects I’ve read where I wasn’t a sensitivity reader in some way.)
- I will only read fiction projects. I prefer some combination of fantasy, science fiction, historical fiction, or mystery in MG, YA, NA, or Adult varieties.
- No rape, rape-overtones, or post-rape PTSD with flashbacks. No erotica. No gratuitous violence or sex. No horror or grimdark. If you include any of these, I have the right to stop reading if it becomes too much for me to handle. Your feedback will end there, wherever it happens in the manuscript. (If I stop reading, you won’t be charged for the unread portion. I apologize if this happens, but there’s as much risk involved for me as for you when taking on a stranger’s work. Let’s just hope it won’t happen!)
- I estimate turn-around to be 1 month. This allows me time to factor in bad-health days, to read your novel (2-5 days) and to digest what I’ve read and provide feedback to you via e-mail (1 day).
- $250 flat fee, split into two payments. $100 will be billed upfront when we make the agreement for me to read for you. This ensures that you really will deliver your manuscript at the agreed time and I really will read. The remaining $150 will be billed when I deliver my feedback. If for some reason I was not able to finish reading then you will not be charged the remainder.
- Payments will be made using Paypal.
- Why $250? Cheaper than hiring a freelance editor who, granted, would be offering you even more detailed feedback, it’s still a reasonable price to pay for my time and experience. Included in that price is payment for my services as a sensitivity reader, and $250 per project is an acknowledged minimum rate for that.
- Query me at laura -at- littletranslator.com. Describe your novel briefly, though you don’t have to be as formal as you would be when querying an agent. I’ll get back to you with if I can take the project and my timetable on when I’d be able to get to it.
- If we agree on the arrangement, I’ll bill you the first payment via Paypal.
Update: Now taking clients for projects read in January 2017 and later.
Keywords: find an alpha-reader, find a beta-reader, beta-reading services, critique partner, reader, manuscript reading services, sensitivity reader