Tag Archives: Beta Readers

13.38: How to Find and Use Alpha Readers

Your Hosts: Brandon, Valynne, Dan, and Howard

We begin by making a useful distinction between alpha and beta reader: the alpha reader is an industry professional, while the beta reader is a stand-in for the eventual audience of readers. We then set about discussing how to find alpha readers, and how to employ them in order to make your work better.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson

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Take something you’ve written to a targeted beta reader.

Writing Excuses 9.16: Coming up with a New Ending Halfway Through

What do you do when the ending you’ve planned won’t be emotionally satisfying? You know, when you’ve discovered during the course of writing the story that you’re making promises to the reader that this particular ending won’t keep?

Mary talks about her recent experience with this exact problem in an as-yet-unpublished project. Howard talks about how he had to come up with a new set of concluding moments for Longshoreman of the Apocalypse (which you can read for free here.) Dan weighs the difficulties he’s having with a current project, and how he had to brainstorm what the story was supposed to be accomplishing, rather than simply what the plot was.

We examine the various tools that we use to solve this problem, which probably offers you some motivation to keep filling your own toolbox.

 

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Take a story you’ve already written, and write a completely different ending for it.

Vortex: Insignia, Book 2, by S.J. Kincaid, narrated by Lincoln Hoppe

(Small world! Howard worked with Lincoln Hoppe twenty years ago, running sound for The Garrens Comedy Troupe while Lincoln was on stage being funny and amazing. You should let Lincoln read to you!)

Writing Excuses 8.50: Q&A with Mercedes Lackey

Sometimes you get lucky. Sometimes the stars align and serendipity is made manifest. And sometimes Mercedes Lackey happens to be hanging around at the same convention you’re recording podcasts at, and sits herself down to answer questions with you. Or rather with us.

Here are the questions. You’ll need to listen to the podcast for the answers:

  • (For Mercedes) How do you stay relevant through the numerous changes in the industry?
  • How do you go about creating a title for a project?
  • Is blending 1st-person and 3rd-person viewpoints cheating?
  • (For Howard) Should marketing research be done before launching an online story?
  • When, where, and how do you end chapters?
  • How can you tell if you’re overusing narrative language?
  • How should a young writer balance their writing time against other activities?
  • What are the parts of being an author that you hate (specifically the non-writing parts)?
  • (For Mercedes) What advice do you have for finding alpha & beta readers?
  • Is it distracting to write out a character’s accent?

 

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Eavesdrop on a conversation at the coffee shop, then go home and write the end of that conversation.

Bastion: Collegium Chronicles Book 5, by Mercedes Lackey, narrated by Nick Podehl.

Writing Excuses 8.41: Out of Excuses Retreat Microcasting

At the Out of Excuses Retreat we took some questions from our listeners, and then answered them before a live audience. Here are the questions:

  • How do you find beta readers?
  • Legal and IP issues? Should you copyright your work before submitting?
  • Advice for a discovery writer?
  • As a fan, what is the best way to pay my favorite authors?
  • Can chapters be too short?
  • How much time do you spend reading?
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“Neon sniper gnome.”

Anna Dressed in Blood, by Kendare Blake, narrated by August Ross.

Writing Excuses 8.38:Out of Excuses Retreat Q&A #2

This was recorded at the “Out of Excuses Retreat,” and the questions came from our attendees. Here are the questions! (You’ll have to listen for the answers.)

  • How have your opinions on self-publishing changed in the last few years?
  • What did you find difficult early in your career? How did you address this?
  • What do you now find difficult? How do you address it?
  • Do you put Easter Eggs in your work that only your friends recognize?
  • How much do questions/comments from readers influence you?

And the question we did NOT answer, but it’s a great one for speculating…

  • Where would Brandon, Dan, Mary, and Howard be, career-wise, if their paths had not crossed?
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Where would Brandon, Dan, Mary, and Howard have ended up if Writing Excuses hadn’t brought them together?

Troubletwisters, by Garth Nix and Sean Williams, narrated by Miriam Margolyes

Writing Excuses 5.33: Alpha Readers

It’s time to talk about alpha readers, and we start with a caveat from Howard: “I don’t want to read your book.” Let’s face it, we here at Writing Excuses might be great alpha readers, but we’re not YOUR alpha readers. We can’t be your back-door to fame and fortune as a genre fiction writer. The good news? There are good alpha readers out there waiting for you. You just need to know how to find them.

We talk about conventions a bit, those places that are full of genre-fiction lovers who might be able to help. We talk about Brandon’s writing group (his alpha readers) and how his agent and editor are actually beta readers. This contrast illustrates the sort of things you should be looking for in an alpha reader. We talk about Howard’s alpha reader (Sandra) and how she has to look at a script with no pictures, no blocking, and no dialog tags and figure out whether or not it’s going to work. This illustrates how she’s a genius and Howard’s just a hack.

Brandon and Dan also cover what they do not want in alpha readers — poor delivery of criticism and proof-reading topping the list.

And then we finally get around to some tricks for building a solid stable of alpha readers. It’s not something you’re going to pull off overnight.

Audiobook Pick-of-the-Week: The Dragon Factory: The Joe Ledger Novels, Book 2 by Jonathan Mayberry, narrated by Ray Porter.

Writing Prompt: Any time you’ve caught cold you’re actually being possessed. Gesundheit.

Loud Howard: brought to you by a too-close microphone. Jordo did his best to fix this in post, but we don’t record on multiple channels so there’s only so much that can be done on our budget.

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