An open call for participants in a beta reader group from one of our members, Larry Loebell:
Perhaps, like me, you are finishing a collection of short stories or a novel. You have workshopped your story and rewritten it several times, and now it feels like it is on the verge of being publication ready. But you would like one more reader to have a look. You don’t need eyes on the fundamentals; you’re past that. Your plot is working. You have copy-edited out all the little inconsistencies that devil a story. Now you want readers who will look at the bigger picture, who will talk to you about the consistency of your characters, the depth and strength of your themes. You want what many writers call “beta readers,” those readers who are the last to look at and comment on your work before you send to agents and publishers, who will put a high level critical eye on your work.
Although it would be good for such a group to meet in person perhaps the first time to get organized and get to know each other, a beta reader group can be a year-round, wide area, internet based communication group. Material can be sent via email, deadlines for return of commentary can be set far enough in advance to give reading time, and style and length of expected responses be agreed on. Perhaps a month of reading time, and a maximum two-page letter (email) would fulfill the need. How we operate can be decided by the group at a first meeting. The important thing would be to have the commitment of 4-5 people who would take seriously the obligation to read and comment. It seems to me that having more than one reader would have value, but too many voices could be confusing or overwhelming. One writer and four commenters each cycle seems to me to be close to ideal. But perhaps the group would find its own metrics as it went along.
A word about me. I split my time between the Adirondacks (Saranac Lake) and Philadelphia. I am a produced and published playwright, screenwriter, and fiction writer. My plays have been premiered in NY, LA, Philadelphia, and elsewhere, and are published by Playscripts, NYTheater Experience, Smith and Krause, and Applause Books. I also have two books of short fiction out – a book of short stories called The Abundance League, and a book of novellas called Seven Steps Ahead. I have finished a novel that I am in the process of shopping, and I am at work on another collection of short stories. I have an academic background (MA in English, MFA in film and television writing) and years of college teaching in film, creative writing, and theater departments. For the six years before I retired, among other things I taught the undergraduate fiction workshop at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. How about you? Looking for high level readers? Finishing work? Readying it for publication? Looking for a connection to writers who have a connection to the Adirondacks? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m eager to meet you.